For the journal, see Gastroenterology (journal).
Not to be confused with Gastronomy.

Illustration of the stomach, colon and rectum.
System Gastrointestinal
Significant diseases Gastrointestinal cancers, Gastrointestinal bleeding
Significant tests Colonoscopy, Stool test, Barium swallows, Endoscopy
Specialist Gastroenterologist

Gastroenterology (MeSH heading)[1] is the branch of medicine focused on the digestive system and its disorders.

Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract, which include the organs from mouth to anus, along the alimentary canal, are the focus of this speciality. Physicians practicing in this field are called gastroenterologists. They have usually completed about 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 seventh year of graduate medical education) in transplant hepatology, advanced endoscopy, inflammatory bowel disease, 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", an early endoscope

Citing from Egyptian papyri, John F. 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:

2. MeSH subject Heading:

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

Names Doctor, Medical Specialist
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Education required

Gastroenterological societies

United States

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).

Research resources


  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
  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. doi:10.1097/00008480-200110000-00008. PMID 11801888.
  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.
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