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Gastroenterology

Expert assessment and treatment for digestive system concerns

Gastroenterology investigates, diagnoses and treats problems of the digestive system. A doctor who specialises in this area of medicine is a Consultant Gastroenterologist.

Your digestive system is an amazingly complex combination of organs and processes, responsible for breaking food down so that it can be absorbed into the body. It also expels the waste products of food as faeces.

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract runs from the mouth to the anus and consists of a series of organs joined together into a long, hollow tube:

  • Upper GI – mouth, oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine)
  • Lower GI (also known as Colorectal) - small intestine, large intestine, anus and rectum
  • HBP (Hepato Pancreato Biliary) - liver, pancreas and gallbladder

A problem in any part of the digestive system can have a significant impact on your health, vitality and quality of life.

At BMI The Chaucer Hospital, three of the most experienced Consultant Gastroenterologists in East Kent provide comprehensive assessment, diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of digestive system complaints and concerns. They would be delighted to help you too.

People who visit a Consultant Gastroenterologist will often have certain symptoms, which may include:

  • Diarrhoea, constipation or other altered bowel habits
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Blood in vomit
  • Blood in faeces - may be visible or hidden (occult)
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Acid reflux/heartburn
  • Jaundice (yellow discolouration of skin)
  • Abnormal results from a liver function test

If you have any of these symptoms, a Consultant Gastroenterologist will be the most helpful person to see for initial investigation. If anything is found that requires referral to another specialist, they will be able to arrange this for you without delay.

Some of the common conditions that can affect the normal function of the digestive system are:

  • Cancer - oesophageal, bowel, liver, bile duct or pancreatic
  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) – Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia)
  • Polyps – abnormal growths of tissues, often visible as small, raised bumps. They may become cancerous if left untreated over a number of years
  • Gallstones – small stones that form in the gall bladder
  • Liver abscess
  • GERD/GORD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Diverticulosis – inflammation of diverticula (small pockets that can develop in the lining of the intestine)

When you first meet with your Consultant Gastroenterologist, they will take a detailed medical history and ask you to describe your symptoms. A clinical examination may be carried out.

It could be that your medical history, symptoms and the results of the physical examination are all that is needed to make a diagnosis at this point. Similarly, it may be determined that your symptoms are being caused by something that is not dangerous and does not need treatment.

Some GI conditions and symptoms will need further investigation, and these will be arranged for you at the earliest possible date.

A Consultant Gastroenterologist is highly experienced in endoscopy. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a camera and light at one end. The camera transmits a live feed to a larger screen.

Depending on your specific symptoms, you may need a Gastroscopy, a Colonoscopy or an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

  • A gastroscopy is used to investigate symptoms in the upper part of the GI tract. Introduced into the body through the mouth, the endoscope is moved down the oesophagus, into the stomach and then into the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum).
  • A colonoscopy is used to investigate symptoms in the lower part of the GI tract. The endoscope is inserted into the rectum and then moved through the large intestine and into the lower part of the small intestine.
  • An ERCP is used to investigate the liver, pancreas, gall bladder and bile ducts.

With any of these investigations, as the endoscope is moved through the GI tract your consultant will be looking for anything unusual or of possible concern, such as a narrowing, swelling or small lump. If anything is seen that needs looking at more carefully, a biopsy (small sample of tissue) can be taken and sent away for analysis under a microscope.

Endoscopic procedures are generally well tolerated, but they can be uncomfortable. A spray is used to reduce coughing and gagging during a gastroscopy. Some patients find this is sufficient, but others prefer to have a sedative injection as well. For a colonoscopy, an injection of a sedative and a pain-killing medication is often used, but some people choose to have it without sedation. You may also choose to have 'gas and air' (nitrous oxide) to ease discomfort. Your gastroenterologist will explain these options to you prior to the procedure, so that you can choose your preference.

Other investigations can also be helpful for, including blood tests, liver function tests, MRI or CT scan and ultrasound. All of these can easily be arranged for you at The Chaucer if required.

Once any results are back, your consultant will discuss them with you and talk about any suitable treatment options. If you have any questions or concerns, your consultant will be happy to talk these through with you.

Many of our patients live in Canterbury or other parts of Kent, but people also travel from Essex and Sussex for expert help.

We see both privately insured and self-funded patients, and you can self-refer. 

When you visit BMI The Chaucer Hospital, you will benefit from:

  • Rapid access to a leading expert – our three Consultant Gastroenterologists are among the most experienced in the region and have highly auditable patient outcomes. With earlier assessment and diagnosis, you will be able to start any treatment needed sooner.
  • Flexible appointments – Gastroenterology appointments are arranged and coordinated by our excellent dedicated secretarial staff, all based at The Chaucer. We can provide remote consultations by telephone or video call when required (and where clinically appropriate).
  • A multidisciplinary team – Some GI conditions will require input from other medical specialists. All of these are readily available on-site, including access to dieticians, surgeons, radiologists and oncologists. This multidisciplinary team ensures you will always see the most appropriate specialist at every stage.
  • Recommended by our patients – In an independent survey, 98% of patients said they were likely or extremely likely to recommend BMI The Chaucer Hospital to family and friends.

For peace of mind and known expert care, why not book your Gastroenterology appointment online now? We look forward to welcoming you to BMI The Chaucer Hospital and helping you to get clarity about your symptoms sooner.

Specialists Offering Gastroenterology

Dr Carlo Nunes

Consultant Physician & Gastroenterologist

MBChB, FRCP

BMI The Chaucer Hospital

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Dr Andrew Muller

Consultant Physician & Gastroenterologist

MBBS DM FRCP

BMI The Chaucer Hospital

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Mr George Tsavellas

Consultant General, Laparoscopic & Colorectal Surgeon

MBBS (Lond); FRCS (Eng); FRCS (Ed); FRCS (Gen Surg); MS (Lond)

BMI The Chaucer Hospital

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