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Fast assessment and treatment for digestive system concerns

The Gastroenterology Service at Albyn Hospital offers consultations for a wide variety of diseases of the gastrointestinal system. Gastroenterological symptoms and related diseases account for nearly 10% of our general practitioners’ workload, and account for nearly 25% of all cancers. Gastroenterologists are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. 

The symptoms can be related to the upper GI tract, with common symptoms including abdominal pain, dyspepsia, heartburn and difficulty swallowing.

The symptoms pertaining to the lower GI tract includes abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation and rectal bleeding. Symptoms pertaining to the liver and biliary tract are abdominal pain, jaundice and fever with chills. Pancreatic problems often present with abdominal pain and weight loss. Many gastrointestinal conditions may present silently as weight loss, iron deficiency anaemia, abnormal liver function tests or abnormal pancreatic enzymes that are only detected on routine testing. 

Some conditions also come to light through screening programmes. The Bowel Screening programme is offered to all individuals over 50 years of age and patients who are found to have evidence of blood in the stools are offered a colonoscopy test.

Gastroenterologists also perform diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy including:

There are multiple sub-specialties within gastroenterology:

Luminal gastroenterology focuses on diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and Hepatology focusses on conditions affecting the liver.

There are gastroenterologists with an interest in managing IBD or inflammatory bowel disease comprising ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Certain gastroenterologists also have an interest in nutrition. 

The Bowel screening programme in Scotland is offered to all men and women between the ages 50 and 74 years, who are invited to participate every two years. The tests are available to those over 75 years, too, but only on request.

The bowel screening kit tests for blood in the stool using a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) through the post. This aims to detect bowel abnormalities, such as polyps (which can lead to bowel cancer) and early-stage bowel cancer. This testing facility is available at the Albyn Hospital for all ages. 

All those who are FIT-positive are offered a diagnostic test called colonoscopy, which directly visualises the entire colon for abnormalities. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland and the screening programme allows detection at an early stage.

Patients who suspect cancer other than screening may notice:

  • A significant change in their bowel habits
  • Blood in the stools
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness
  • A pain or mass that can be felt in the abdomen. 

It’s important to remember that having one or more of these symptoms does not automatically mean that you have bowel cancer, but it’s vital that you don’t put off seeing a specialist. 

When patients visit the clinic at Albyn with these symptoms, the consultant will discuss their bowel habits in an initial consultation and may conduct a preliminary examination of the back passage.

This is performed using an instrument called a proctoscope, which looks at the anus and rectum. This is followed by the more definitive diagnostic endoscopic test called colonoscopy, which is performed after taking specific laxatives and requires admission as a day-case patient.

During a colonoscopy, if polyps are detected, they can be usually removed by the endoscopist at that time. Rarely, large polyps need a surgical procedure for clearance. If colon cancer is detected on the colonoscopy, biopsies are sent urgently for a definite pathological diagnosis and CT scans are done.

The case is discussed in a multidisciplinary meeting (with surgeons and oncologists) with all the necessary information to decide on the next line of treatment quickly. This can involve respective surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy or a combination of these modalities.

The traditional open approach to surgery is by having a big cut in your belly or keyhole, or more recently (which is not common in the private sector just yet), robotic surgery, which is only available on the NHS for bowel cancer.

Albyn does not have access to this, as the robot was funded by the NHS Board.

During your gastroenterology consultation, our Consultant will take a full medical history and ask you about your symptoms and how they are affecting you.

If, based on your symptoms, an investigation or other diagnostics are required, you will be booked in a test (or a series of tests), which could include:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool sample tests
  • Radiological imaging, including CT scans and ultrasounds
  • Endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy.

Some common conditions seen in clinic include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Gastric cancer
  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)Pancreatic disorders
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Gallstones
  • Cirrhosis of liver
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease
  • Colorectal cancer.

Radiological Investigations

This could include investigations such as a CT scan, MRI scan or an ultrasound, to assess a particular organ to see how it is performing. 

Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy 

Gastroscopy is offered to patients with upper gastrointestinal symptoms. Diagnostic biopsies can be taken to rule out conditions like Helicobacter pylori infection and coeliac disease.

Therapeutic interventions like dilatation of strictures and botulinum injections can be performed for a selected group of patients.

Colonoscopy is suggested for those with lower gastrointestinal symptoms primary with change in bowel habits and manifest bleeding in the stools. This is also done for those who are FIT-positive through the bowel screening programme. 

Diagnostic biopsies can be taken to rule out inflammatory bowel disease and cancer. Therapeutic interventions like polypectomy and endoscopic mucosal resection can be done if polyps are detected at colonoscopy.

Assessment of liver diseases

Another sub-speciality available at the Albyn Hospital is Hepatology.  Expert opinion regarding a variety of liver conditions including Alcohol related liver disease, Non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD), viral hepatitis and autoimmune hepatitis can be obtained from a Hepatology consultation.

The Albyn Hospital has a wide catchment area in the North-East of Scotland, with several specialist gastroenterology services available under one roof.

People also travel from in and around Aberdeen itself, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and plenty of towns and cities in between.

If you are looking for gastroenterology treatment in Scotland, you will be pleased to discover our range of in-patient and outpatient services at Albyn Hospital. 

Private consultations are sought after – and when you choose Albyn Hospital, you will get to see the Consultant of your choice. 

You can also look forward to reduced waiting times and your appointment will always be ‘predictable’; alongside seeing the same Consultant, everything will be explained to you in simple terms. 

You will also enjoy optimum privacy. If you’re visiting for a procedure, you will be given a comfortable single room to relax in before and after your treatment, if needed. 

There is also the opportunity to undergo procedures under the care of an anaesthetist, which makes a huge difference in how they are undertaken. For example, you can’t get an anaesthetist to give you a sedation on the NHS, but we are fortunate to have that service at Albyn. 

At a glance, here are some reasons you might choose Albyn Hospital:

  • Flexible appointments and shorter waiting times – an evening clinic is also available.
  • Consultant-led appointments – your appointment will be consultant-led, and you will see the same person each time you visit; you may also have the chance of a remote consultation.
  • Patient satisfaction and personalised care – Albyn Hospital has been awarded a 98.1%* patient satisfaction score *via independent agency, Quality Health. 

Want to make an appointment with our Consultant Gastroenterologist? Call our team on 01224 595993 or use our handy online booking system

Specialists offering Gastroenterology

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Dr Umesh Basavaraju

Consultant Gastroenterologist


Albyn Hospital

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Mr Peter Mekhail

Consultant Upper Gastrointestinal, Bariatric and Laparoscopic Surgeon


Albyn Hospital

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Dr Balasubramaniam Vijayan

Consultant Gastroenterologist


Albyn Hospital

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Dr Malcolm Smith

Consultant Gastroenterologist

MBChB, BSc, Med Sci(Hons), FRCP

Albyn Hospital

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Dr Ashis Mukhopadhya

Consultant Gastroenterologist

MBBS, MD, DM (Gastro), DNB (Gastro) FRCPE

Albyn Hospital

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