Abdominal pain – what to expect on a visit to a gastroenterologist


Abdominal pain is the most common reason people reach out to a gastroenterology clinic. The final diagnosis maybe as benign as a simple “stomach flu” causing nausea / vomiting and diarrhea or it can a malignancy that requires early detection, therefore it is important to seek expert consultation if symptoms do not improve.

In this video Dr. Gabriel Lee talks about what to expect on a visit to a gastroenterologist. We will be asking you questions about the onset, severity, location, characteristics, aggravating and relieving symptoms as well as any associated symptoms such as weight loss, nausea, vomiting, changes in bowel habits and blood in the stool.

A physical exam is performed to better pinpoint the location of the pain. Different internal organs can cause pain at different locations. Right upper sided abdominal pain is associated with liver / gallbladder disease. Epigastric pain is an indication of stomach / pancreas problems. Left sided abdominal pain may be an indication of spleen disease. Colon and small bowel disease can manifest as pain anywhere in the abdominal area.

Blood work may be ordered at the conclusion of the visit, as well as radiological studies and endoscopic procedures.

Two most common radiological studies are ultrasound and computer tomography. Ultrasound uses sound waves and computed tomography uses X-Rays to visualize the internal organs that may be causing pain. Pancreatic cancer, gallbladder disease as well as inflammatory disease can be diagnosed this way.

Endoscopic procedures can also be ordered. A small camera is inserted either through the mouth or the rectum while the patient is sedated. Esophagoduodenoscopy (EGD) looks at the inside of the food pipe, stomach and beginning portion of duodenum. Colonoscopy looks at the end of the small bowel as well as the whole colon.