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 Cardiothoracic Surgery?
Cardiothoracic surgery is the medical specialty that provides surgical care for the chest. Most often this means heart or lung surgery, but it can also include surgery on the esophagus, breastbone, or chest wall. Some cardiothoracic surgeons may specialize in the surgical treatment of children, or focus on a specific organ or surgical procedure.
Some of the diseases and procedures that a cardiothoracic surgeon might handle include:
Coronary artery disease
Heart valve surgery
Cancer of the esophagus
GERD, or severe acid reflux
Heart or lung transplants
Cardiothoracic surgeons may use various types of imaging, such as an electrocardiogram or CT scan, to diagnose problems and plan the operation. They may also offer minimally invasive surgery or robotic surgery, if appropriate, to lower the risk of scarring and infection.
Cardiothoracic surgery is an older medical specialty, but it is still one of the most amazing. Often patients who need a cardiothoracic surgeon are extremely sick, suffering from an illness that will kill them without intervention. With surgery, however, they often make a complete recovery.
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