) is the branch of medicine
whereby the digestive system
and its disorders are studied. Etymologically
, the name is a combination of three Ancient Greek
), and logos
Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the organs from mouth to anus, along the alimentary canal, are the focus of this specialty. Physicians practicing in this field of medicine are called gastroenterologists. Important advances have been made in the last fifty years, contributing to rapid expansion of its scope.
Hepatology, or hepatobiliary medicine, encompasses the study of the liver, pancreas, and biliary tree and is traditionally considered a sub-specialty.
Citing from Egyptian papyri, 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 and proctology.
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 eighteenth century.
- In 1805, Philip Bozzini made the first attempt to observe inside the living human body using a tube he named Lichtleiter (light guiding instrument) to examine the urinary tract, the rectum, and the pharynx. This is the earliest description of endoscopy.
- Charles Emile Troisier described enlargement of lymph nodes in abdominal cancer.
- In 1868, Adolf Kussmaul, a well-known German physician, developed the gastroscope. He perfected the technique on a sword swallower.
- In 1871, at the society of physicians in Vienna, Carl Stoerk demonstrated an esophagoscope made of two telescopic metal tubes, initially devised by Waldenburg in 1870.
- In 1876, Karl Wilhelm von Kupffer described the properties of some liver cells now called Kupffer cell.
- In 1884, Kronecker and Meltzern studied oesophageal manometry in humans.
1. International Classification of Disease(ICD 2007)/WHO classification:
- Chapter XI,Diseases of the digestive system,(K00-K93)
2. MeSH subject Heading:
- Gastroenterology (G02.403.776.409.405)
- Gastroenterological diseases(C06.405)
3. National Library of Medicine Catalogue(NLM classification 2006):
- Digestive system(W1)