Gastroenterology is the specialty which investigates and treats disorders of the digestive system. It helps diagnose, treat, and prevent problems that happen in the digestive system to process food and waste. This relates to your esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreatic ducts, and liver. It also includes your small intestine, colon and rectum.
There are a wide range of symptoms for which you might be referred to Gastroenterologist. These include stomach or chest pain, or long-lasting changes to your bowel habits. It also covers blood coming out of your bottom or a diagnosis of bleeding in your gut. People with family members who had digestive diseases may also be asked to see a gastroenterologist. It is also now advised to ask your GP about visiting a Gastroenterologist to get screened for bowel and colorectal cancers from 45 years old.
There are several common illnesses related to the gut. These include Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When you are referred to a gastroenterologist, they will assess your symptoms and take your medical history. This may include questions about the type of pain you’re experiencing, changes in your bowel habits, or other concerns that you raise. Depending on the suspected cause of your symptoms, you may have a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose, manage or treat your condition.
The three Blackrock Health hospitals share a history of excellence in the field of Gastroenterology. Our team of experts is highly experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of digestive disorders. We can provide dietary education, advice, and preventative actions to help improve your gut health. This can include recommendations for a balanced diet, avoiding trigger foods, and making lifestyle changes to prevent gut issues. By providing you with this guidance, Blackrock Health gastroenterologists can help you manage current symptoms and prevent future problems.
We have also invested in state-of-the-art diagnostic and imaging equipment. This allows our team to perform the latest tests and procedures to provide you with fast, accurate and actionable diagnoses. We are committed to providing compassionate and personalised care, and to ensure you get the best possible treatment. Whether you are experiencing a minor digestive problem or a more complex issue, we are here to help. Our goal is to work with you on a tailored plan to help you achieve optimal digestive health.
At Blackrock Health, our three hospitals each offer expert and experienced gastroenterology teams. They specialise in the management of all gastrointestinal disorders including patients with the following issues:
- Bowel / Colorectal Cancer
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Crohn's Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Celiac Disease
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Gallbladder Diseases and Gallstones
- Liver Diseases
What to expect
If your doctor refers you to one of our Blackrock Health gastroenterology teams, we will look at your symptoms and medical history. We may ask you questions about the pain you're feeling, changes in your toilet routine, or any other worries you have. We may then suggest a few tests and procedures to diagnose the problem, depending on what we think is causing your digestive issues. These tests could be things like a physical examination, blood tests, or imaging tests like MRI or CT scans. Some specific gastroenterology tests are explained below.
Urea Breath Test
The Urea Breath Test checks for bacterial infections in the gut without using surgery. Most of the time, it's used to see if someone has an infection called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). During the test, doctors take a bit of your breath and check for a chemical called urea. If you have H. pylori, the bacteria break the urea down in your stomach and gut. The test is quick and easy, and you can get the results in a few minutes.
If doctors think that someone has an H. pylori infection or other bacterial cause of tummy problems like pain or bleeding, they might suggest the Urea Breath Test. They might also suggest it if you have a family history of gut diseases and have symptoms like bloating, heartburn or indigestion.
An endoscopy is another diagnostic test for a range of gastrointestinal issues. It involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end down your throat and into your digestive tract. This allows doctors to get a closer look at what's going on in your gut and take tissue samples if needed.
An endoscopy can be used to diagnose or treat several problems. This includes inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, bleeding in the digestive tract or growths in the stomach. It can also check for gastroesophageal reflux disease or oesophageal stricture. This is the narrowing of the oesophageal sphincter, which can make it hard to swallow.
We can also use a similar kind of flexible tool to look in your rectum and large intestine - with a test called a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor looks inside your large intestine (colon). This is done by inserting a long, flexible tube with a camera into the rectum. It is used to look for signs of diseases or to check for changes in the lining of the colon. A colonoscopy should be carried out if you have symptoms that suggest there may be something wrong with your intestines. These include bloody stools, persistent abdominal pain, and persistent changes in bowel habits. It can also be done to screen for cancer or other conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. This test can both identify and remove polyps in the same procedure. A biopsy will then be sent to the pathology lab to determine if these poylps are benign or need further treatment.
Treatment, Management or Surgery
If our Gastroenterology team thinks you have a manageable problem with your gut, they may suggest some changes to your lifestyle. This can include changes in your diet or exercise habits. They may also give you some medicine to help with the symptoms. For example, they could prescribe proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux or antidiarrheals for IBS.
Sometimes, the treatment for your gut problems might be more complicated. If you have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you may ultimately need to consider surgery to remove the damaged part of your intestine. Or, if you have an oesophageal stricture, you may be recommended surgery to help enlarge your throat to stop food from getting stuck.
Gut Health Clinic
Gut health is an important part of overall health, yet it can often be overlooked. If you are feeling bloated and sluggish or finding it hard to digest food. It may be possible that your gut health is out of balance.
There are a variety of services available to help you optimise your gut health. These can range from dietary changes to probiotic supplements. In addition, some patients may benefit from treatments like fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT).
Nutrition is an important part of maintaining gut health. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fibre, fruits and vegetables, as well as avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks. At Blackrock Health we have Gut Health services at two locations: Blackrock Clinic and Hermitage Clinic.
Our gut health team can direct and support dietary changes to help manage ongoing gut symptoms, such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Altered bowel habit
Benefits of attending
If you go to a Blackrock Health gastroenterologist this could help stop future illnesses, or prevent minor issues from becoming significant problems. You can also expect to get a proper diagnosis and effective treatment or management advice. This should make it possible to resolve or manage your symptoms, and so maintain or improve your quality of life.
How do I get this?
You will need a referral letter from your GP or consultant before you make an appointment. Please see our Request Appointment Form here.
Is this insured?
Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance Cover Check page here, or by contacting your health insurer.
How do I pay?
If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page here. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.