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Editor-In-Chief: Stephanie Fernandez, M.D. [2]


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List of terms related to Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology (MeSH heading[3] ) is the branch of medicine where the digestive system and its disorders are studied. Etymologically it is the combination of Ancient Greek words gastros (stomach), enteron (intestine) and logos (reason).

Diseases affecting gastrointestinal tract (i.e. organs from mouth to anus) are the focus of this speciality. Doctors specialising in the field are called gastroenterologists. Important advances are made in the last 50 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 subspeciality.


Drawings of Bozzini's "Lichtleiter"

Citing from Egyptian papyri, Nunn identified significant knowledge of gastrointestinal diseases among practising doctors in Pharaoh periods. Irynakhty, of the tenth dynasty c. 2125 BC was a court physician specialising in gastroenterology and proctology.[1]

Among ancient Greeks, Hippocrates attributed digestion to concoction. Galen's concept of the stomach having four faculties was widely accepted up to modernity.

18th century:

19th century:

  • In 1805 Philip Bozzini made first attempt to observe living human body through 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.[4][5]
  • Charles Emile Troisier described enlargement of lymph node in abdominal cancer.[6]
  • In 1868 Adolf Kussmaul, a well known German physician, developed the gastroscope. He perfected the technique on 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 man.

20th century:

Disease classification

1. International Classification of Disease(ICD 2007)/WHO classification:

  • Chapter XI,Diseases of the digestive system,(K00-K93)[4]

2. MeSH subject Heading:

  • Gastroenterology (G02.403.776.409.405)[5]
  • Gastroenterological diseases(C06.405)[6]

3.National Library of Medicine Catalogue(NLM classification 2006):

  • Digestive system(W1)[7]

Gastroenterological societies


  1. Nunn JF. Ancient Egyptian Medicine. 2002. ISBN 0-80613-504-2.
  2. Edgardo Rivera, MD James L. Abbruzzese, MD; Pancreatic, Hepatic, and Biliary Carcinomas, MEDICAL ONCOLOGY: A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW[1]
  3. DeStoll M: Rationis Mendendi, in Nosocomio Practico vendobonensi. Part 1 LugduniBatavarum, Haak et Socios et A et J Honkoop 1788, OCLC: 23625746
  4. Gilger, Mark A. MD,Gastroenterologic endoscopy in children: past, present, and future. Gastroenterology and nutrition Current Opinion in Pediatrics. 13(5):429-434, October 2001.
  5. The Origin of Endoscopes, Olympus history
  6. Anton Sebastian,A Dictionary of the History of Medicine, ISBN 1850700214


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