What is Gastroenterology?
A gastroenterologist is a doctor that specializes in the normal function and diseases of the digestive tract, which includes the stomach, intestines, spleen, pancreas, and liver. As a specialty, gastroenterology is the study of how food moves through the body, how nutrients are absorbed by the body, and how waste is removed by the body. A few of the conditions that a gastroenterologist might treat are:
ulcerative colitis (a condition where inflammation and sores affect the lower intestine)
gallbladder disease (where bile stored in the gallbladder thickens and causes inflammation or gallstones)
gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD (stomach acid flows back into the throat and causes a burning sensation and tissue damage)
One unique trait that really sets gastroenterologists apart is their training and skill with endoscopy, a procedure where tiny flexible tubes are inserted into the body. These tubes are equipped with lights and cameras to provide the practitioner with a close, inside look at what is going on inside the patient’s body. Tools can even be inserted through the tubes to perform certain procedures, such as removing polyps or cancers, stretching open passageways that have narrowed, or applying lasers to stop bleeding.
Gastroenterologists do not perform surgery, but they do perform endoscopic procedures, as well as biopsies to determine if cancer is affecting the digestive tract. Although other physicians can use endoscopes, gastroenterologists devote a significant portion of their medical training and practice to endoscopy. They learn how and when to use endoscopy, the safest and most efficient methods to use, and how to interpret what they see through the endoscope.
What is Vascular Surgery?
Vascular surgeons provide both medical and surgical care for the blood vessels of the body. This includes arteries, veins, capillaries, and lymph vessels, but not usually the heart or large vessels immediately surrounding the heart -- those are cared for by cardiologists or cardiothoracic surgeons.
Some of the blood vessel disorders that might require treatment by a vascular surgeon include:
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries
Venous thrombosis, or clots in the veins
Peripheral arterial disease, where narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the legs
Carotid artery stenosis, or narrowing of the arteries leading to the brain
Vascular surgery is an unusual surgical specialty because it offers medical care, testing, and non-invasive procedures, as well as complete surgical care. So depending on the diagnosis, a vascular surgeon may offer care or treatment that is non-invasive (such as imaging, diet, or exercise), minimally invasive (such as catheter procedures), or traditional surgery.
When vascular disease disrupts oxygen and nutrients from being delivered efficiently within the body, a vascular surgeon can help restore the flow of health.
What is Foot & Ankle Surgery?
Foot and ankle surgery is the specialty offering medical and surgical care for the foot and ankle. The feet and ankles are some of the most frequently injured parts of the body, but foot and ankle surgeons also treat damage due to illness, major trauma, or structural disorders.
Foot and ankle surgeons begin their career by either studying podiatry or orthopedics. Podiatrists study and care for the feet and ankles, while orthopedists study how bones, muscles, and tendons work and help us move. After their initial training, foot and ankle surgeons go on to do a surgical residency for three years, studying specifically how to care for feet and ankles with surgery.
A foot and ankle surgeon may treat conditions including:
Trauma, such as due to a car accident
Surgical management of joints damaged by arthritis
Polydactyly (extra toes)
Tumors of the foot
The care offered by foot and ankle surgeons does not always involve surgery. Depending on the diagnosis, they may recommend non-invasive medical treatments such as rest, ice / heat, casting, bracing, or physical therapy.
What is Podiatry?
Podiatry is the medical specialty that deals with injuries and diseases of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Caring for feet may seem simple at first glance, but podiatry combines elements of sports medicine, wound care, diabetic care, and pediatrics into one specialty.
Podiatrists examine and treat many minor conditions in their office. They may perform surgery at a hospital, and they may refer patients to other professionals for physical therapy or orthotics if needed.
Some of the conditions commonly seen by podiatrists include:
Sprains and fractures
Heel pain and heel spurs
Ingrown or infected toenails
Corns and calluses
Structural issues of the foot
Pain in the feet and ankles is often neglected or seen as a normal part of daily life by patients, but keeping your feet healthy is a great way to maintain your mobility into old age. A podiatrist can help you keep moving comfortably.