Illustration of the stomach, colon and rectum.
System Gastrointestinal
Significant diseases Gastrointestinal cancers, Gastrointestinal bleeding
Significant tests Colonoscopy, Fecal occult blood testing, Barium swallows, Endoscopy
Specialist Gastroenterologist

Gastroenterology (MeSH heading)[1] is a branch of medicine focused on the digestive system and its disorders. In the United States, gastroenterology is an internal medicine subspecialty certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine (AOBIM).

mouth to anus, along the alimentary canal, are the focus of this specialty. Physicians practicing in this field are called gastroenterologists. They have usually completed eight years of pre-medical and medical education, a year-long 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. Some gastroenterology trainees will complete a "fourth-year" (although this is often their 7th year of graduate medical education) in transplant hepatology, advanced endoscopy, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), motility or other topics.

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


Drawings of Bozzini's "Lichtleiter"

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, sleeping, 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.

Eighteenth century:

Nineteenth century:

McClendon's pH-probe

Twentieth century:

Twenty-first century:

The word gastroenterology is a combination of three Ancient Greek words: γαστήρ gaster (gen.: gastros) "stomach", ἔντερον enteron "intestine", and λόγος logos "reason".

Disease classification

1. International Classification of Disease (ICD 2007)/WHO classification:

  • Chapter XI,Diseases of the digestive system,(K00-K93)[1]

2. MeSH subject Heading:

  • Gastroenterology (G02.403.776.409.405)[2]
  • Gastroenterological diseases(C06.405)[3]

3. National Library of Medicine Catalogue (NLM classification 2006):

  • Digestive system(W1)[4]
Names Doctor, Medical Specialist
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Education required

Gastroenterological societies

Research resources


  1. ^
  2. ^ Nunn JF. Ancient Egyptian Medicine. 2002. ISBN 0-8061-3504-2.
  3. ^ Edgardo Rivera, MD James L. Abbruzzese, MD; Pancreatic, Hepatic, and Biliary Carcinomas, MEDICAL ONCOLOGY: A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW [5]
  4. ^ DeStoll M: Rationis Mendendi, in Nosocomio Practico vendobonensi. Part 1 LugduniBatavarum, Haak et Socios et A et J Honkoop 1788, OCLC: 23625746
  5. ^ Gilger, MA (October 2001). "Gastroenterologic endoscopy in children: past, present, and future.". Current Opinion in Pediatrics 13 (5): 429–34.  
  6. ^ The Origin of Endoscopes, Olympus history
  7. ^ Anton Sebastian,A Dictionary of the History of Medicine, ISBN 1-85070-021-4
  8. ^ Prout, W. On the nature of the acid and saline matters usually existing in the stomachs of animals. – Philos. Transactions, 1824, 1, 45.
  9. ^ McClendon J. F. New hydrogen electrodes and rapid methods of determining hydrogen ion concentrations. – Amer. J. Physoil., 1915, 38, 2, 180.
  10. ^ Alvarez W. C. The electrogastrogram and what it shows. JAMA, 78(15):1116-18, 1922.

External links

  • Publications/Journals at DMOZ
  • GastroHep - global online resource for gastroenterology
  • The Digital Atlas of Video Education - Gastroenterology
  • Elms Digestive-Gastroenterologists