What is a gastroenterology consultation?
Many minor gastrointestinal (GI) issues resolve with the passage of time, the use of over the counter remedies, and/or the advice of a general internist or family physician. Unfortunately, others elude these measures, and cause on-going debility and pain.
Gastroenterologists possess highly specialized expertise and experience related to diagnosis and management of diseases of the digestive tract. Gastroenterologists receive certification by the sub-specialty board of the American Board of Internal Medicine.
A gastroenterology consultation is an in-depth one-to-one meeting between you and a gastroenterologist. We ask you to describe your issue in depth, and ask you questions. We traditionally do a physical examination, and then based on our assessment make recommendations for testing and treatment. We answer any questions you have related to the evaluation, symptoms, diagnosis or prognosis. We make third-party referrals or help arrange highly specialized testing, much of which we perform for you ourselves at a future date.
The consultation provides you with all the information you need to make informed and educated decisions about your care, both immediate and into the future. This may include a discussion of medications, various kinds of therapy, or lifestyle changes. In some cases, your doctor will discuss surgical options and any long-term care needs.
When should I have a gastroenterology consultation appointment?
Consultation appointments are advisable any time you require a solution to a challenging gastroenterological problem. Typical reasons patients seek GI consultation include, on-going symptoms such as abdominal pain or a change in bowel habits; the need for a specialized procedure, such as colonoscopy; an illness that eludes accurate diagnosis; to decide about surgical versus medical management. They can also be arranged if you would like to get a second opinion about a diagnosis or care recommendation you’ve received from another health care practitioner.
Second Opinions: Are they a good idea?
We believe getting a second option is a very good idea in many cases. Some patients are reluctant to seek second opinions, but in fact, doctors expect them. This is especially true if you have received a serious diagnosis, or if you are facing surgery or a complicated treatment program.
Prior to your second opinion consultation, you should have any previous test results forwarded. When needed, we may also perform our own tests and examinations. Once we have all the results, we can provide you with an independent evaluation and care recommendation.
Can I bring a family member to my consultation appointment?
We strongly recommend having a family member or loved one attend your consultation. Having a trusted person accompany you can help overcome any concerns or nervousness. Also, having someone with you can help if you have a lot of questions and want to make sure they are all covered, or if you want someone available to listen or take notes.
What happens after the consultation?
This depends on the individual circumstances. In some instances, a GI consultation will be on one-time visit, where we render an opinion and recommendation and you return to your primary provider. In other situations (e.g. chronic GI diseases), we will provide you with on-going care – often for decades! In others, we will see you next when we perform a procedure for you, or to discuss the results of an imaging study or blood or stool test.