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Fast assessment and treatment for digestive system concerns

Gastroenterology is involved in investigating, diagnosing and treating diseases and dysfunctions of the digestive system. A doctor who specialises in this field is known as a Consultant Gastroenterologist

Your digestive system is responsible for breaking the food you eat down into smaller parts so they can be absorbed into the body. It is also responsible for removing waste products by expelling them as faeces. The digestive system reaches from mouth to anus and is incredibly complex, made up of many different parts and processes.

If you experience any type of problem in your digestive system, it may cause you concerning symptoms such as abdominal pain, heartburn, diarrhoea or constipation.

The Consultant Gastroenterologists at The Highfield Hospital treat a wide range of conditions and symptoms affecting the digestive system and would be delighted to help you too. 

Your digestive tract, also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract comprises: 

  • 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 

Problems can occur in any part of the digestive system, and certain symptoms may show up as a result. The symptoms commonly seen for digestive tract problems are: 

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Bloating 
  • Indigestion 
  • Heartburn 
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Blood in vomit 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Constipation 
  • Altered bowel habits 
  • Rectal bleeding – normally this is not seen by the eye (this is known as occult blood) 
  • Acid reflux – stomach acid passes up the throat and causes heartburn 
  • Jaundice (yellow discolouration of skin) 

Some of these symptoms may be quite frightening or concerning, and it can be sensible to get medical advice if you experience any of them. The Gastroenterology team at The Highfield Hospital can provide you with comprehensive investigation to determine the cause of your symptoms sooner. 

There is often quite an overlap of symptoms with different conditions affecting the GI tract, making an accurate diagnosis crucial. Some of the common conditions we see include: 

  • Cancer - oesophageal, bowel, liver, bile duct or pancreatic 
  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) – this includes both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis 
  • Dyspepsia (Indigestion) 
  • Diverticulitis – inflammation of a small pocket (diverticula) that has formed in the lining of the intestine 
  • Polyps - small fleshy raised areas. These may become cancerous over a number of years if left untreated 
  • Gallstones – formation of small stones in the gall bladder 
  • Liver abscess 
  • GERD/GORD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) 
  • Fatty liver disease

By getting a diagnosis of any of these conditions at an earlier stage, you will be able to benefit from any treatment sooner. Indeed, many of these conditions are best treated when found at the earliest possible stage, At The Highfield Hospital, we can provide you with comprehensive investigation from an expert without delay, so that any problems can be picked up quickly. 

When you first meet with you Consultant Gastroenterologist at The Highfield Hospital, they will take your medical history and will ask you to describe your symptoms. They will want to know things like:

  • The symptoms you have 
  • When these symptoms first appeared 
  • Whether your symptoms have been getting worse  
  • Whether any particular foods, drinks or activities make your symptoms worse 
  • Whatever you are currently taking any medication

A physical examination may also be carried out.

This may be all that is needed to determine that your symptoms are not being caused by anything worrying or dangerous. However, many people will be referred for further investigations.

A lot of possible problems within the GI tract are most easily investigated using a special instrument known as an endoscope. This is a thin, flexible tube with a camera and light at one end. The camera transmits a real time feed to an external screen. 

Depending on your symptoms, you may have a Gastroscopy, a Colonoscopy or an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). All can be easily arranged for you at The Highfield Hospital. 

  • A gastroscopy examines the upper part of the GI tract. The endoscope is introduced into the body through the mouth and moved down the oesophagus, into the stomach and then into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). 
  • A colonoscopy examines the lower part of the GI tract. The endoscope is inserted into the rectum and moved along the large intestine, into the small intestine.

Both investigations allow your Consultant to thoroughly examine the relevant part of the GI tract, and they will look carefully for anything unusual or of possible concern, such as bulges, lumps or a narrowing.

In both procedures, a biopsy can be taken. This involves removing a small sample of tissue from the area in question, which is then sent for examination under a microscope. 

  • An ERCP is an endoscopy to investigate problems in the bile ducts, gall bladder and pancreas. It is primarily used to treat conditions that are causing a blockage within the bile ducts. These blockages are usually caused by a stone, which is removed by making a small cut at the lower end of the duct. Occasionally, a blockage will be caused by a tumour. In this case, a thin tube ('stent') can be inserted into the duct to allow it to drain once more.

Endoscopic procedures are normally well tolerated, but they can occasionally be uncomfortable. A spray will be used to help reduce coughing and gagging during a gastroscopy, but some choose to also have a sedative injection. During a colonoscopy, an injection of a sedative and a pain-killing medication is often used, but some people chose to have no sedation or to use 'gas and air' (nitrous oxide) instead. Your Consultant will explain the different options available to you before the endoscopy.

Other tests, including blood tests, liver function tests, MRI scan and ultrasound, may be required and these are available on-site at The Highfield, and simply arranged.

Once results are back, your Consultant will draw up a personalised treatment plan for you. There may be occasions that referral to another specialist is required (for example, if surgery will be needed for severe Crohn’s disease), and this is easily done. 

Your Consultant will always discuss treatment options with you so that you can make an informed choice about treatment. If you have any questions or concerns at any time, they will always be very happy to talk through them with you. 

Many people are referred to a Consultant Gastroenterologist at The Highfield Hospital by their GP, another healthcare professional or their private medical insurance provider. Others self-refer in order to avoid delay.

We treat patients with private medical insurance and those using a self-pay option.

While many of our patients live in Rochdale and the surrounding areas, excellent accessibility by private and public transport means that people can also easily visit from further afield. 

When you choose to visit The Highfield Hospital, you will benefit from: 

  • Fast access to an expert – An experienced Gastroenterologist will be able to see you without delay, so that your symptoms can be investigated and diagnosed, and any treatment needed can be started sooner.  
  • JAG Accreditation – Our Endoscopy suite has achieved Joint Advisory Group (JAG) accreditation. This national body assesses the endoscopy services delivered to patients from the start of their journey, through any necessary procedure, right through to their aftercare during recovery.  
  • Personalised care – Investigations and treatments are most effective when they are tailored to the individual. Your Consultant will oversee every aspect of your care, from initial investigation and treatment planning through to treatment and follow-up/monitoring. You will always see the same Consultant, providing excellent continuity of care. 
  • Flexible appointments – Gastroenterology appointments are available throughout the week, making it easy to book a time that’s suitable for you 
  • A multidisciplinary team – Your Consultant works closely with specialists in other areas such as General Surgery, Radiology, Anaesthetics and Oncology. This multidisciplinary team approach ensures you will always receive support and treatment from the most appropriate specialist. 
  • Recommended by our patients – In an independent survey, an incredible 99.1% of patients said they were likely or highly likely to recommend us to family and friends.   

For peace of mind and known expert care for your symptoms, please contact us to book your Gastroenterology appointment now. We look forward to welcoming you to The Highfield Hospital soon. 

Specialists offering Gastroenterology

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Dr Muhammad Afzal

Consultant Gastroenterology

MBBS, FRCP, FEBGH, CCT gastroenterology and GIM.

The Highfield Hospital

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Dr Muhammad Nadeem Iftikhar

Consultant Gastroenterologist and clinical lead for hepatology


The Highfield Hospital

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Mr Patrick Scott

Consultant General Surgeon

MB ChB, FRCPS (Glas), FRCS (Ed), MD

The Highfield Hospital 1 more The Beardwood Hospital

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Dr Roger Prudham

Consultant Gastroenterologist

MB BS (Lond), FRCP(UK), Accredited Bowel Cancer Screening Programme Colonoscopist

The Highfield Hospital

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Mr Nasir Iqbal

Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon

MBBS MRCSI, Dip MIS (France) FRCS( General & Colorectal Surgery)

The Highfield Hospital 1 more The Beaumont Hospital

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Mr Moustafa Mansour

Consultant UGI / General and Laparoscopic Surgeon


The Highfield Hospital

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