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Fast assessment and treatment for your digestive system concerns

Gastroenterology is the field of medicine that investigates, diagnoses and treats diseases and dysfunctions of the digestive system. A doctor who specialises in this field is known as a Consultant Gastroenterologist.

Your digestive system breaks food down so that it can be absorbed into the body. It then works to remove the leftover waste products that cannot be used by the body by expelling them as faeces. Your digestive system is incredibly complex, comprising many different parts and functions. A healthy digestive system is absolutely vital to the proper functioning and health of your body.

Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract stretches from mouth to anus and is made up of:

  • Upper GI –the mouth, oesophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine
  • Lower GI (Colorectal) - the latter part of the small intestine, large intestine (or Colon), rectum and anus.
  • HBP (Hepato Pancreato Biliary) – liver, pancreas and gallbladder

If a problem occurs in any of these parts of the digestive system, whether it is caused by disease, dysfunction or damage, it can have a significant effect on your health, vitality and energy levels. Many problems in the digestive system will cause noticeable symptoms, such as pain in the abdomen, bloating or heartburn. 

The Consultant Gastroenterologists at The Shirley Oaks Hospital provide expert assessment, diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of digestive system conditions and symptoms. They would be delighted to help you too.

People who visit a Consultant Gastroenterologist here at Shirley Oaks often have certain symptoms that may suggest a problem somewhere within the digestive system. The most common symptoms we see are:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Blood in vomit
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Other altered bowel habits
  • Rectal bleeding – may be visible or hidden (occult)
  • Acid reflux – stomach acid passes up the throat and causes heartburn
  • Jaundice (yellow discolouration of skin)

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or you have had an abnormal liver function test result, it is always sensible to see medical advice. While your symptoms may not be a cause for concern, proper assessment can help with your peace of mind. The Gastroenterology team at Shirley Oaks are experts in this field, providing comprehensive investigation of your symptoms to find out what is causing them and what the best treatment would be for you.

Because of the size and complexity of the digestive system, many conditions will often have overlapping symptoms. This is where the expertise of a Consultant Gastroenterologist helps, as they are able to narrow down causes.

Some of the common conditions that affect the healthy functioning of the digestive system include:

  • Cancer - oesophageal, bowel, liver, bile duct or pancreatic
  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) – this includes both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia)
  • Diverticulitis – diverticula are small pouches that can develop in the lining of the intestine. If they become inflamed, it is known as diverticulitis.
  • Polyps – abnormal growths of tissues, often looking like small, raised bumps. While they are often harmless, they may become cancerous if left untreated over a number of years
  • Gallstones – small stones that may form in the gall bladder
  • Liver abscess
  • GERD/GORD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Peptic ulcer disease

Many of these conditions are more easily treated when they’re found at the earliest possible stage.

At Shirley Oaks, we can offer you rapid access to comprehensive investigation from an expert. By getting earlier assessment and diagnosis, you will be able to see the benefits of any treatment sooner.

When you first meet with your Consultant Gastroenterologist in Croydon at Shirley Oaks, they will take your medical history and ask you about your symptoms. They will want to know:

  • What symptoms you have
  • How long you’ve had these symptoms
  • Whether your symptoms have been getting more noticeable/severe over time
  • Whether any particular foods, drinks or activities make your symptoms worse
  • How your symptoms are affecting daily life
  • Whether you are worried about any specific things (for example, has a change in bowel habits made you worry that you have bowel cancer?)

A physical examination may also be carried out during the consultation.

It may be that a diagnosis can be made at this stage, or that your symptoms are nothing to be concerned about. For other symptoms, you may be referred for further tests to investigate specific parts of functions of your digestive system.

One of the most helpful tools when investigating problems within of the digestive system is endoscopy. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a camera and light at one end. The camera transmits a real time image to a video screen

Depending on your symptoms, you may need to have a Gastroscopy, a Colonoscopy or an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). If needed, these will all be arranged for you at Shirley Oaks at the earliest opportunity.

  • A gastroscopy investigates symptoms in the upper part of the GI tract. The endoscope is introduced into the body through the mouth and then moved down the oesophagus (food pipe), to the stomach and then into the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).
  • A colonoscopy investigates symptoms in the lower part of the GI tract. The endoscope is inserted into the rectum and then moved along the large intestine and into the lower part of the small intestine (ileum).
  • An ERCP is used to investigate symptoms possibly being caused by a problem in the liver, pancreas, gall bladder or bile ducts. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth and moved into the stomach. A special dye is then injected which shows up on X-ray. An ERCP can be used to treat some conditions. For example, if a bile duct is found to be narrowed or blocked, a stent may be inserted to open it up again. If gallstones are discovered in the bile duct, these can often be removed.

During any of these endoscopic investigations, your Consultant will look for any abnormalities or areas of possible concern, such as small lumps or any narrowing in the GI tract. If needed, a biopsy (small sample of tissue) may be taken and sent away for further analysis.

While not painful, these investigations can be uncomfortable, so you will normally be offered sedation or gas & air (nitrous oxide) to help make things more comfortable for you.

Additional tests, including blood tests, liver function tests, MRI scan, CT scan and ultrasound, are all available on-site at Shirley Oaks, so are easily arranged if needed.

Once any investigations have been carried out, your Consultant will discuss suitable treatment options with you so that you can make an informed choice about treatment. If you have any questions or concerns at any stage, they will be very happy to talk these through with you.

If you need to be referred to another specialist (for example, if bowel cancer is discovered you will be referred to the Oncology team) this will be done without delay.

Most people seen by our Consultant Gastroenterologists at The Shirley Oaks Hospital have been referred to us, either from their GP, another healthcare professional or their private medical insurance provider. We see patients with private medical insurance and those using one of our self-pay options.

Many of our patients live in Croydon and the surrounding areas of Surrey, but good road and public transport links make it very easy to visit us from further afield as well.

When you visit a Consultant Gastroenterologist at The Shirley Oaks Hospital in Croydon, you will benefit from:

  • Fast access to expert assessment – GI symptoms can often be quite concerning to experience and the last thing you’ll want is to have to wait weeks (or even months!) to be seen by somebody. We can easily and quickly arrange an appointment for you with an experienced Gastroenterologist, so that you can get clarity about what is causing your symptoms sooner.
  • Tailored care – The sheer complexity of the digestive system requires careful tailoring of investigations and treatments to ensure you receive the support that is best for you. Your Consultant will oversee every aspect of your care, and you will always see the same Consultant when you visit.
  • Appointments to suit you – With Gastroenterology appointments available throughout the week, it is simple to book an appointment for a time that is convenient for you. While consultations are normally carried out in person here at The Shirley Oaks Hospital, we can provide remote consultations by telephone or video call when required (and where clinically appropriate).
  • Support from a multidisciplinary team – When needed, your Consultant has quick and easy access to specialists in other areas such as surgery, radiology, anaesthetics, nursing and oncology. This multidisciplinary team approach means that you will always see the most appropriate specialist for your condition.
  • Recommended by our patients – In an independent survey, 97.7% of patients said they were likely or highly likely to recommend us to family and friends.

For peace of mind and known expert care, book your gastroenterology appointment online now.

We look forward to welcoming you to The Shirley Oaks Hospital soon.

Specialists offering Gastroenterology

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Mr Rhys Thomas

Consultant General Surgeon

BSc, MBBS, FRCS (General Surgery)

Shirley Oaks Hospital 2 more The Sloane Hospital The Blackheath Hospital

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Dr Parth Paskaran

Consultant Gastroenterologist


Shirley Oaks Hospital

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Mr Stephen Brennan

Consultant General Surgeon


The Blackheath Hospital 3 more Shirley Oaks Hospital The Sloane Hospital Chelsfield Park Hospital

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Mr Muti Abulafi

Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon

MS (Lond), FRCS (Eng)

Shirley Oaks Hospital

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Mr Said Mohamed

Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon

BA, BMBCh, MA(oxon), FRCS(Gen.Surg)

The Sloane Hospital 1 more Shirley Oaks Hospital

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