Typically, a colonoscopy procedure is performed by a gastroenterologist, commonly referred to as a GI doctor. A gastroenterologist doctor is a physician who specializes in the diseases affecting the colon and is trained to perform the necessary surgeries to help patients suffering from gastrointestinal health conditions.
Refer to our medical directory to find a GI doctor or gastroenterologist listed near you who can help you diagnose your abdominal pain, colon polyps, colorectal bleeding or other colon cancer symptoms—as well as help you to prevent colon cancer with regular colonoscopy screenings.
In general, gastroenterologists go through an extensive eight year medical program, which includes four years at a college or university and four additional years in medical school. Most complete a year-long internship, two years in a residency program—finally following up their residencies with gastroenterology fellowships. All gastroenterologists have been required to pass the American Board of Internal Medicine certification examination prior to being certified in gastroenterology. During gastroenterology fellowships, GI doctors become experts at managing and evaluating conditions associated with the digestive tract, including but not limited to Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatic diseases, colon cancer and colorectal polyps. Gastroenterology fellowships also include practical instructions on how to administer tests such as colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy and other endoscopic procedures necessary to the diagnosis of most gastrointestinal disorders and cancers.
Overall, gastroenterologist doctors are trained in internal medicine as well as in advanced training specific to the gastrointestinal tract and digestive system. Most have undergone between 12 and 15 years of schooling and practical application training before becoming certified by the American Board of Gastroenterology. Depending on the gastrointestinal disorder you are facing, you may want to find a GI doctor that has expertise in certain areas of the digestive system.
GI doctors focus on the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. They are knowledgeable about the entire digestive system and gastrointestinal tract, which includes organs such as the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, the large intestine (or colon), the pancreas, the liver and the gallbladder. Gastroenterologists can also help you if you are experiencing issues relating to the biliary system, which may include diseases of the gallbladder, bile ducts or bile.
You may be referred to a gastroenterology if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms for long periods of time: abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea or difficulty swallowing. Since colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related death in the United States, you may also work closely with a GI doctor for preventative care with regular screenings to cleanse and examine the bowels or to examine your stool for hidden blood or other signs of internal complications. Common conditions diagnosed, treated and monitored by a gastroenterologist doctor include colon cancer, panreactitis, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal cancers and sources of gastrointestinal bleeding as a result of colon polyps, diverticular disease, peptic ulcer disease or hemorrhoids.
Reviewed 12/12/2011 by David M. Nolan, M.D.
Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, 2011
Currently a Fellow of Gastroenterology, at UCI 2011-2014