The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) consists of a hollow muscular tube starting from the oral cavity, where food enters the mouth, continuing through the pharynx, oesophagus, stomach and intestines to the rectum and anus, where food is expelled. There are various accessory organs that assist the tract by secreting enzymes to help break down food into its component nutrients. Thus the salivary glands, liver, pancreas and gall bladder have important functions in the digestive system. Food is propelled along the length of the GIT by peristaltic movements of the muscular walls.
Gastrointestinal diseases refer to diseases involving the gastrointestinal tract, namely the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum, and the accessory organs of digestion, the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
The gastrointestinal tract is a muscular tube lined by a special layer of cells, called epithelium. The contents of the tube are considered external to the body and are in continuity with the outside world at the mouth and the anus. Although each section of the tract has specialised functions, the entire tract has a similar basic structure with regional variations.
Problems associated with the following areas are normally evaluated by a gastroenterologist are:
- Oral cavity
- Salivary glands
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
- Gall bladder
A Gastroenterologist is a doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating diseases of digestive organs. The digestive organs include the digestive tract-oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestine-as well as related organs-the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.