From the moment we bring a child into this world, as a parent, there is a natural instinct to care for that infant. We protect and nurture our children to be strong and healthy.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the parents, a child can become sick, or may have been born with inherent disorders which, despite the best possible parental love and care, requires the expertise of a specialized doctor, a pediatrician.
This practitioner is a qualified doctor who has chosen to dedicate his professional practice to the medical care of children.
Within the specialized sphere of pediatrics, the pediatric gastroenterologist has a very important role to play in the diagnostics and treatment of young people, from birth to teenage years.
Although a child’s body functions in the same way as an adults’ their bodies are very different. Their internal organs and structures are developing and require specialist knowledge in identifying any rogue conditions, and then to develop the appropriate treatment.
Practicing pediatric gastroenterologists have an extensive range of skills that are specific to children. Any disorders related to problems with allergies, intolerances, digestion, liver, or nutrition come within the scope of a pediatric gastroenterologist.
Some issues may be minor and can be diagnosed and effectively treated through expert pediatric knowledge. Other conditions can present more serious, complex problems that require the practitioner to develop more complicated ongoing treatment programs.
As a qualified doctor with further training in pediatrics, these professionals have exceptional skills. Not only are they skilled doctors, but they have particular skills in recognizing the unique concerns and anxieties that are experienced by children that may be suffering pain, discomfort or problems with leading a normal life.
Young children are also less articulate in explaining what and how they feel, so a unique ability in understanding the youngster’s mind is also essential.
The Increasing Bain of Allergies
Although the reasons are not fully understood, allergies are on the increase, particularly in children. As a result, allergies are now common for millions of people, however, diagnosing the source can be problematic.
Allergic reactions can be due to almost anything, from the food and drink that is imbibed, physical contact with certain substances, drugs, and venoms or the air that is being breathed. With such a wide variety of allergies and their manifestations, skilled diagnosis is vital.
Percutaneous and intradermal skin tests are often used to test a child for allergies towards certain foods or drugs, bites, and stings from insects or airborne particles and pollutants.
This procedure is administered through the application of a diluted allergen via a tiny prick in the outer layer of the skin, this is referred to as a percutaneous or prick test. The physical reaction to this can then be assessed.
Should the percutaneous test be inconclusive, an intradermal test may be undertaken. This is administered by using a thin needle to inject the diluted allergen into the skin.
This test is done if there is a suspicion of an allergy towards venoms or certain drugs, such as penicillin. This test has a slightly higher level of risk and the doctor will be prepared for any severe adverse reaction, such as an increase in heart rate, drop in blood pressure or difficulty in breathing.
The reactions to either of the tests can aid the doctor in giving an accurate diagnosis, treatment, and advice as to how to limit the risks of exposure to the particular agitates.
These procedures are also employed for the diagnosis of food intolerances. It will also be suggested that a diary is maintained of all sustenance taken by the patient, with adverse effects logged.
A diary of this type is of great value to the pediatric gastroenterologist when ascertaining the particular agitate.
Digestive and Colonic Disorder
Many conditions of this ilk can have very similar symptoms, this can result in frustration and difficulty during diagnosis. In order to gain a definitive diagnosis many tests have been developed, and some of these tests will require a short stay in hospital. Tests that are now routine include:
The 24-hour pH probe. This test is used to detect gastroesophageal reflux and the number of reflux episodes.
A barium meal test. The barium meal is, in fact, a drink that allows a special X-ray designed to show any refluxing or irritation of liquid into the esophagus, also highlighting any abnormalities in the upper digestive tract.
Water-Soluble Contrast Enema. An enema solution of a water-soluble contrast liquid is drunk by the patient, which creates an outline of the large bowel. An X-ray is taken before and after the patient goes to the bathroom for diagnosis.
Anorectal and Esophageal Manometry. Anorectal manometry is a test that shows whether or not the two small muscles of the anus are opening and closing as they should.
Antroduodenal Manometry. Using measurements of pressure and relaxation, the antroduodenal manometry procedure is specifically designed to test the ability of the antrum and duodenum to move digested foods.
Gastric Emptying Scan. This scan is a radiology test. The scan will gauge the rapidity of the stomach’s contents through to the small intestine.
Liver Biopsy. A liver biopsy is a procedure that enables doctors to examine cells and tissues taken directly from the liver. This is done by extracting a small piece of tissue, by cutting or scraping, for laboratory examination.
Many Gastroenterol conditions are treatable and curable, others are not, in particular allergies and intolerances. Non-curable conditions have to be managed, and pediatric gastroenterologists are well placed to administer help with this.
Depending on each individual case, it may be lifestyle changes that are necessary or continual use of drugs to control a patient’s condition.
For curable problems, a course of drugs may be sufficient to correct the abnormality, although, often surgical procedures will be required to correct a problem. Some surgical procedures can be invasive and will require time for a full recovery.
Although, pediatric gastroenterologists are able to undertake many more procedures using up-to-date endoscopic surgical techniques which are far less invasive than conventional surgery and vastly reduce the recovery time for the patients.
For newborns, children and young teens with allergies, intolerances and any conditions relating to the digestive tract, the knowledge, and skills of a pediatric gastroenterologist should always be set.
Most hospitals will have these skills in house. Often, they can also be consulted at university medical centers, there are also many privately practicing, fully registered pediatric gastroenterologists. Regional and national medical associations will carry a register of these qualified professionals.