There’s a 25-foot-long tube inside our bodies that processes the foods we eat. The gastro system or “GI track,” along with the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder, make up the parts of our bodies which break down and absorb the foods we eat, plus what we drink, so the nutrients can be transported to the blood system and delivered to our cells as nourishment.
In our culture, a good deal of attention is paid to eating a healthy diet and to eliminating from our diet that which causes “stomach” problems. Gluten-free, low-fat, high-fiber, vitamin-fortified, probiotic – all familiar and popular terms used to describe foods which promote good digestion and good health. A well-balanced diet plays an important role in keeping the digestive track running smoothly and in preventing or relieving uncomfortable symptoms.
A GI system in good digestive health will have appropriate nutrient absorption, intestinal motility, immune function, and a balanced microbiota or group of “good” micro-organisms that aid in digestion. Most people with good digestive health do not regularly experience symptoms like abdominal pain, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, bloating and nausea.
There are many over-the-counter remedies for the occasional occurrence of digestive ailments like these. For cases of greater concern, patients can see a specialist with extensive training in diseases of the digestive track – a gastroenterologist. Gastroenterology is the study of the normal function and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver.
Gastroenterologists have a detailed understanding of the normal action (physiology) of the gastrointestinal organs including the movement of material through the stomach and intestine (motility), the digestion and absorption of nutrients into the body, removal of waste from the system, and the function of the liver as a digestive organ.
It includes common and important conditions such as colon polyps and cancer, hepatitis, gastro esophageal reflux (heartburn), diverticulitis, peptic ulcer disease, colitis, gallbladder and biliary tract disease, nutritional problems, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and pancreatitis. In essence, all normal activity and diseases of the digestive system are covered by this specialty.
New developments in technology advance treatment and provide patients with quicker diagnoses and less invasive treatment. Two of the most common tools are colonoscopy, for examination of the large intestine, and endoscopy, for examination of the upper digestive track and the stomach or abdomen. A doctor must complete many additional years of rigorous training to master the diagnostic tools of gastroenterology.
Statesboro is fortunate to have three such specialists in individual practices affiliated with East Georgia Regional Medical Center: Dr. Patrick Dorvilus of Access Gastroenterology, Dr. Joseph Hathaway of Gastroenterology Institute, and Dr. Daniel Eli Penn of East Georgia Gastroenterology Center. These specially trained and certified doctors treat patients daily in the Endoscopy suite at EGRMC and are dedicated to providing the latest available technology for diagnosis and treatment, along with a superior level of patient care.