Gastroenterologist – a physician specializing in diseases of the digestive system including esophagus, stomach and intestines. These specialists do not do surgery. Patients needing surgery are referred to a general surgeon.
Proctologist – a physician specializing in diseases of the rectum and anus. Proctology is a surgical subspecialty.
Guaiac test (Hemoccult, Fecult) – a special chemical test to identify blood in the stool (feces). Blood in the stool may have many causes including cancer and hemorrhoids.
Upper GI series – a series of X-rays of the esophagus and stomach and small intestines having the patient swallow a “milkshake” of barium. The element barium is opaque, i.e. blocks , X-rays. This procedure may be used to identify problems with swallowing, stomach ulcers, twisting of the small intestines.
Lower GI series – a series of X-rays using a barium enema to show the large intestine and rectum. This procedure can be used to identify problems such as diverticulitis/diverticulosis, and tumors.
Endoscopy – use of a flexible fiberoptic instrument attached to a video camera that can be used to directly visualize the esophagus, stomach and large bowel. Special names may be used for each area explored such as colonoscopy.
Ultrasonography (ultrasound) – a procedure using high frequency sound waves to visualize internal organs. Primarily used to visualize abdominal and pelvic organs, such as the pregnant uterus.