Gastroenterology

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Gastroenterology (MeSH heading)[1] is the branch of medicine whereby the digestive system and its disorders are studied. The name is a combination of three Ancient Greek words gaster (gen.: gastros) (stomach), enteron (intestine), and logos (reason).

Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the organs from mouth to anus, along the alimentary canal, are the focus of this specialty. Physicians practicing in this field of medicine are called gastroenterologists. They have usually completed the eight years of pre-medical and medical education, the yearlong internship (if this is not a part of the residency), three years of an internal medicine residency, and two to three years in the gastroenterology fellowship. Specialists in GI radiology, hepatobiliary or gastric medicine, or in GI oncology will then complete a two- or three-year fellowship. Gastroenterology is not the same as gastroenterological surgery or of colon and rectal (proctology) surgery, which are specialty branches of general surgery. Important advances have been made in the last fifty years, contributing to rapid expansion of its scope.

Hepatology, or hepatobiliary medicine, encompasses the study of the liver, pancreas, and biliary tree, and is traditionally considered a sub-specialty.

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History

Citing from Egyptian papyri, Nunn identified significant knowledge of gastrointestinal diseases among practising physicians during the periods of the pharaohs. Irynakhty, of the tenth dynasty, c. 2125 B.C., was a court physician specialising in gastroenterology and proctology.[2]

Among ancient Greeks, Hippocrates attributed digestion to concoction. Galen's concept of the stomach having four faculties was widely accepted up to modernity in the seventeenth century.

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