What Medical Procedures Do Gastroenterologists Commonly Perform?

Posted on: 19 August 2020

Gastroenterology is the study of medicine that focuses on conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. Physicians who specialize in this type of healthcare are known as gastroenterologists. Some gastroenterologists diagnose and treat a wide variety of gastrointestinal health conditions, and some focus strictly on a specific type of gastrointestinal health issue. These are some medical procedures that gastroenterologists commonly perform.


If a patient has problems with being able to properly digest food, eat without enduring pain or burning in the stomach or throat, or frequent vomiting, it may be necessary to have an endoscopy performed. An endoscopic ultrasound can be done on the upper or lower gastrointestinal tract and other internal organs to help diagnose what may be causing these issues. Endoscopy can also be used to locate tumors, gallstones, or scar tissue in the bile duct as well. 

A special type of endoscopy, known as the capsule endoscopy, is also often performed by gastroenterologists to view the condition of the small intestine. A tiny camera placed in a small capsule swallowed by the patient allows the physician to see the inside of the small intestine on a screen so a proper diagnosis can be made.


A colonoscopy is performed to view the large intestine and rectum to make sure there is no colon cancer or polyps in the large intestine. The gastroenterologist performs this procedure by inserting a thin wire with a tiny video camera on it into the rectum so that pictures of the large intestine can be viewed. Many physicians recommend that patients over the age of 50 have a colonoscopy performed every few years so that any polyps or cancer can be diagnosed and treated early.


If a patient has symptoms that indicate there may be problems with the liver, it might be necessary for the gastroenterologist to do a biopsy of the liver. This involves removing a small piece of tissue from the liver and then examining it in a lab to check for inflammation of fibrosis. This is a surgical procedure, but it is very minimal and often can be done as an outpatient procedure.

It is very important to know when you may need to see a gastroenterologist. If symptoms such as bleeding when having a bowel movement, difficulty swallowing, or unexplained abdominal pain occur, it is a good idea to ask a family physician to refer you to a gastroenterologist. The earlier these symptoms are revealed to a specialist, the more quickly the health issues causing them can be diagnosed and treated properly.

For additional information, reach out to a local gastroenterologist.