22 June, 2024

General GI vs. Interventional GI

When you need a doctor’s help in managing your health, it can be challenging to know which type of doctor you need. If your concerns are related to your digestive system, understanding the difference between a gastroenterologist and an interventional gastroenterologist can be very helpful.

At Reveal Weight Loss, we are proud to feature some of the best interventional gastroenterologists in the country. Dr. Avik Sarkar, with dual board certifications and advanced endoscopy training, specializes in treating obesity through endoscopic methods. Similarly, Dr. Haroon Shahid brings his expertise in advanced endoscopic procedures, offering non-surgical weight loss solutions.

Today, we will talk about what distinguishes a general GI from an interventional GI doctor and how their expertise might help you.

What Is The Difference Between A General GI vs. Interventional GI?

The main difference between a general gastroenterologist (GI) and an interventional gastroenterologist is their level of specialized training and expertise as well as the range and complexity of the procedures they perform.

This question is a bit tricky to answer because, in reality, all gastroenterologists perform interventions using non-surgical endoscopic procedures, so there is not really a classification of a non-interventional gastroenterologist. About 20 years ago, the term interventional gastroenterologist was developed to describe a doctor who worked in a specialized area within gastroenterology and could perform therapeutic ERCP, a specialized complex procedure used to treat various conditions of the bile ducts and pancreas.

What Do Gastroenterology Specialists Do?

An interventional gastroenterologist diagnoses and treats conditions related to the small intestine, stomach, esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, colon, and bile ducts. They have the expertise to identify various issues that affect the gastrointestinal system, such as the complete digestion process, from food consumption and nutrient absorption to waste disposal.

A gastroenterologist can pursue additional training to specialize in a specific area of gastroenterology, including:

  • Hepatology focuses on the study, diagnosis, and treatment of liver, gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas disorders, treating conditions such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer;
  • Advanced Endoscopy involves specialized training in complex interventional GI procedures such as endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), and endoscopic weight loss procedures;
  • IBD (inflammatory Bowel Disease) treats this chronic inflammatory condition, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis;
  • Neurogastroenterology identifies and treats issues related to the muscles and nerves in the digestive system that control how food and waste move through the stomach and intestines, including IBS and gastroparesis;
  • Pediatrics focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal conditions in infants, children, and teens;
  • Transplant Hepatology specializes in the management and care of patients before and after a liver transplant;
  • Pancreatology treats diseases and disorders of the pancreas, such as pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer;
  • Gastrointestinal Oncology specialists diagnose and treat cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, including esophageal, gastric, colorectal, liver, and pancreatic cancers;
  • Nutrition and Obesity Medicine specializes in the treatment of obesity by concentrating on nutrition and gastrointestinal health, including performing non-surgical endoscopic weight loss interventions and providing dietary management for gastrointestinal diseases.

What Kind Of Training Do Interventional GI Doctors Receive?

A doctor aiming to become a gastroenterologist first completes a three-year residency in internal medicine. Next, they enter a gastroenterology fellowship program for another 2-3 years of specialized training in a field of their choice. By the end of this period, they will have completed 5-6 years of specialty-focused education beyond medical school, learning from top experts and gaining a comprehensive understanding of gastrointestinal diseases and how to treat them.

Gastroenterologists are also trained extensively in endoscopy, a non-invasive method that uses flexible, lighted tubes with cameras to examine the digestive tract. This expertise allows them to offer high-quality, minimally invasive care instead of surgery. They learn to perform procedures like colonoscopies and polypectomies and may receive advanced training in endoscopic weight loss, ultrasound, and gallstone removal. After their fellowship, they must pass a certification exam to become board-certified specialists.

Conditions Treated by Gastroenterologists

Doctors who specialize in gastroenterology handle diseases of the intestines, stomach, liver, and pancreas. Some of the conditions they treat are:

  • Acid Reflux (GERD);
  • Celiac Disease;
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS);
  • Stomach Ulcers;
  • Pancreatitis;
  • Hepatitis;
  • Colorectal Polyps;
  • Hiatal Hernias;
  • Esophagitis;
  • Diverticulitis;
  • Cirrhosis;
  • Fatty liver disease;
  • Gallstones;
  • Gallbladder inflammation;
  • And more.

They also perform routine diagnostic tests, such as colonoscopies and liver scans.

Can An Interventional GI Help Me With Weight Loss?

Yes! A gastroenterologist can be incredibly helpful if you have struggled to lose weight. They are skilled in diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal issues that might be hindering your weight loss efforts, and they can also uncover food sensitivities, such as lactose or gluten, which can cause inflammation and impede weight loss.

Some interventional gastroenterologists have specialized expertise in obesity medicine, and coupled with their extensive training in endoscopic procedures, they can perform endoscopic weight loss treatments, which can make a world of difference in the results of your weight loss journey.

Endoscopic Weight Loss Procedures

Gastroenterologists who have specialty training can perform non-surgical weight loss procedures to help those struggling with weight issues. These procedures help patients overcome underlying problems that may have hindered their previous weight loss attempts.

Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG)

An endoscopic procedure called ESG involves placing stitches inside the stomach to create a smaller, tube-shaped sleeve. This reduces the stomach’s capacity, making you feel full with less food and for a longer time. This non-surgical procedure is performed from inside the patient’s body using an endoscope that is lowered down the throat. It is done as an outpatient procedure and usually takes about an hour, with patients discharged to go home the same day. Most patients can return to normal activities within a week due to the quick recovery time.

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty

Gastric Balloon

Another option is the gastric balloon, where a deflated balloon-like medical device is placed in the stomach via an endoscope and then filled with saline. This balloon takes up space in the stomach, helping with portion control and making you feel full most of the time. This outpatient procedure takes less than 30 minutes and requires no surgery. After six months, the balloon is removed, and you continue a 12-month program supervised by your doctor to establish healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

Orbera gastric balloon

Interventional Gastroenterology In Livingston, New Jersey

Reveal Weight Loss is proud to be the first dedicated endobariatric center in New Jersey, leading the industry in advanced, non-surgical weight loss solutions. Our team specializes in endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), which is a safe and effective outpatient procedure that helps patients achieve and maintain significant weight loss without the need for surgery.

Our board-certified experts have successfully performed over 10,000 complex endoscopic procedures and bring over 14 years of experience to demonstrate our commitment to excellence and patient care. At Reveal Weight Loss, we focus on helping patients adopt healthier lifestyles so they can maintain their health and weight loss results long-term.

Our center is equipped with the latest technology and staffed by highly trained specialists who are dedicated to helping you reach your weight loss goals. We understand the challenges that come with weight loss and are here to support you every step of the way. Set up a consultation today and trust the experts at Reveal Weight Loss to guide you on your journey to a healthier, happier you.

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