What is the relationship between the Gastroenterologist and the Hepatologist?

There are several specialists who evaluate and treat people with liver disorders. First there is the clinical doctor. He is often the first to discover that there is something wrong with the liver. From there, the patient is routinely referred to a specialist, whether a gastroenterologist or hepatologist. So what is the difference between each of these specialists?


The gastroenterologist

The gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in training in the treatment of digestive disorders . These disorders include problems of the esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, bladder and liver. During a two to three year residency in gastroenterology, some doctors have little contact with patients with liver disease.

On the other hand, some gastroenterologists have a great deal of experience with this type of patient. Therefore, the level of experience and expertise among gastroenterologists in diagnosing and treating liver disease varies greatly. It is important for the patient to determine the degree of experience of the chosen gastroenterologist in dealing with liver disease, before establishing a long-term medical relationship.


Main activities of the gastroenterologist

The gastroenterologist, after an appropriate medical consultation, which includes anamnesis and physical examination, makes the diagnosis of the patient’s disease. Complementary exams such as endoscopy, colonoscopy, ultrasound and tomography, among others, are often necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Then treatment is proposed, which can be clinical or surgical.


Hepatologist: treats only the liver and its related

Hepatology is a branch of medicine concerned with the study, prevention, diagnosis and management of diseases that affect the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas. The term hepatology is derived from the Greek words “hepatikos” and “logia” , which mean liver and study, respectively.


Hepatology: more than a specialization

Hepatology was to be considered a subspecialty of gastroenterology, but nowadays doctors can specialize in hepatology, which is quickly emerging as an autonomous specialty . Since the liver is a critical organ that can be affected by a large number of factors, the liver is usually the focal point in hepatology.


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