Medical specialty dealing with digestion and the digestive system. In the 17th century Jan Baptista van Helmont conducted the first scientific studies in the field; William Beaumont published his own observations in 1833. Lavage (washing out the stomach) and endoscopy were developed in the 19th century, and endoscopy and X rays with a contrast medium were first used to visualize the stomach and digestive organs in the 1890s. Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat disorders of the stomach, intestines, liver, and pancreas, including ulcers, tumours, inflammatory diseases (including ulcerative colitis and ileitis), and rectal disorders.
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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.
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.
1. International Classification of Disease(ICD 2007)/WHO classification:
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3. National Library of Medicine Catalogue(NLM classification 2006):