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Michael, Therapist
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Experience:  Master of Arts in Psychology
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what is a gi specialist what kind of tests do they do my 21 ...

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what is a gi specialist?what kind of tests do they do?my 21 month old has to go and i am very nervous-but i do want answers


A GI specialist (in this case a pediatric GI specialist) is a gastroenterologist, and you should be seeing one who works just with children and adolescents.

Gastroenterologists deal with all aspects of the digestive system. This includes the mouth, swallowing, the esophagus (the tube going from the mouth to the stomach), the stomach, the small intestines, the large intestines, and the rectum.

GI doctors also deal with the organs that work with digestion such as the liver, gallbladder, and sometimes the pancreas (although the pancreas is more complex and problems with the pancreas are often dealt with by an endocrinologist.)

The GI doctor is going to start by taking a very thorough history. He will want to know all about the conception and pregnancy, the delivery, development, and everything that has happened in the past (almost) 2 years.

Then the doctor will do a physical examination, much like the pediatrician. He will check the baby's weight, length, listen to the heart, lung, and stomach, feel the belly, etc.

There are procedures that the doctor can do, but this depends on what the symptoms are that is causing you to bring your 21-month old to see him.

At this point, can you tell me more about the problems that are causing you see to bring your baby to the GI doctor?

Dr. Michael

Michael and 2 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Michael's Post: my son is 21 months old and is not growing in height or weight and he refuses to eat he has seen a asphia(?)doctor who said he wasnt chewing he does chew now when he does eat -feedinf him is a constant fight-we dont take him out cause it is so embarrassing. i had to push pediatriatrician to do this because i want answers cause he kept telling me something was wrong with my child but he diddnt know what! my child was born 5 weeks early due to high blood pressure-he was 4lbs 3oz and put on special formula,he stays sick alot(colds,croop,pnumonia) his doctor thought he is alletrgic to milk cause congested all the time took it away and gave soy formula and now pediasure but still not growing and still doesnt want to eat and wont drink out of cup-has to have bottle-is that normal?-i wanted to break at 1 year but doctor says to still give due to weight problems.

Some of the tests that the GI doctor may do, which may have already been done, include blood tests to establish the nutritional status of your son.

The doctor will want to make sure his electrolytes, blood glucose, liver enzymes, pancreatic enzymes, and blood counts are all fine. This will help determine how much of the nutrition he needs, he is actually getting.

The doctor may want to do an upper endoscopy which is a procedure where a small, thin tube is put down the throat and into the stomach to make sure the lining of the esophagus and stomach are fine. The doctor can also check on the valve that goes from the stomach to the small intestine to make sure it does not appear abnormal. Your son would be sedated for this procedure so he would sleep through it and feel no pain or discomfort at all.

He may want to do a swallowing study. There are a number of ways to do this, but basically some sort of x-ray or tube will be used to watch him chew (or not chew) and see exactly how formula and soft foods go down the esophagus.

These are the major procedures the doctor may choose to do. On the other hand, based on the initial history, physical examination, blood work, and results of any tests done so far he may have suggestions for you to try before doing any procedures.

At this point I would still use the bottle if this is what he prefers. You should do this at least until the GI doctor sees him and advises you.

Take care,

Dr. Michael

Michael and 2 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
thank you so much -so the only painful procedure would be the blood tests?-he has had none cause his pediatrician tried to order blood work but the lab tried 10 times over2 hour time period with me holding him and the nurses alternating and they couldnt get any and they tried in his office with no luck-his pediatrician siad he didnt want to put him through all that and really didnt want to do this yet cause he didnt think me or him could handle some of the testing but didnt explain what it would entail and i need answers for my sanity so i pushed -i hope i am doing the right thing!

Yes, that is correct.

Any other procedure that would cause discomfort is done with sedation (not general anesthesia like in an operating room) but much simpler sedation with an IV that is safe and just has him go to sleep.

While it can be difficult to obtain blood from a 21-month old, a competent phlebotomist, nurse, or doctor will be able to do it. I would not allow 10 attempts over 2 hours. Some people are just better at this than others. So unless it is an emergency, I would not let the GI doctor or the pediatrician do this again.

If the doctor is unable to draw blood after a few attempts, ask about using a small amount of a sedative - not to put him to sleep - but to help make him more relaxed.

Also, a pediatric surgeon, anesthesiologist, neonatologist, or emergency room physician may have more experience. So ask your doctor if he knows of a colleague in one of these areas who can do him a favor. If so, you can take your son to one of these specialists just to have the blood drawn.

I definitely think you are doing the right thing by consulting a GI specialist. Remember, your pediatrician is expected to know a little bit about everything involving a newborn through an older teenager. But the GI doctor will know a lot more about everything related to the digestive system.

Dr. Michael

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Michael's Post: thank you -there have been no tests don e yet-0we tried blood tests but were unsucceesful getting blood-his doctor didnt want to scar or scare him away from doctors and didny wantme to go through taht again-ipushed to get answers cause he keeps telling me something is wrong but he doesnt know what -he wasnt sure if he wanted to do this yet or not cause he said i may still not get answers and some of the tests i might not like and they would b e difficult for both of us to go through i told him i was ready that i need answers or at least try for answers -i hope i did right!!-what do you think -do you think i am pushing to soon or that i am wrong for wanting answers -could i just be hurting my child?
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Michael's Post: thank you so much for your help and knowledge i really appreciate it i replied again before you answered i thought i had done it wrong!! thank you for being sooo quick!!i really appreciate it!!! you dont know how much you have relieved my fears about just making my child suffer!

The fact that he "is not growing in height or weight and he refuses to eat" is all that is required for me to say you are definitely doing the right thing.

He is at a critical stage in his development. Allowing a problem like this to go unaddressed can effect him for the rest of his life. Your demand for answers is not just to make you feel better - it is the necessary thing to do to help your son.

You are not hurting your child. I think if you ignored this problem you would be taking serious risks with his health - now and for the rest of his life.

So trust your instincts because they are 100% correct. The fact that "some of the tests [you] might not like" is hardly a reason to allow this problem to go unaddressed. Seeing a specialist is the right thing to do.

Stop questioning yourself - you know what you are doing and why, and your concerns and thinking are absolutely correct.

Dr. Michael

You are welcome. I am glad I could help.

Have a good night,

Dr. Michael