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Fast assessment and treatment for digestive system concerns

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

The digestive system comprises a number of different organs and processes to break food down so that it can be absorbed into the body. It also expels the waste products of food as faeces. Your digestive system is incredibly complex and the proper functioning of all the different parts of it is absolutely essential to your long-term health and vitality.

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract runs from the mouth to the anus and consists of a series of organs joined together into a long, hollow tube:

  • Upper GI – mouth, oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine)
  • Lower GI (also known as Colorectal) - small intestine, large intestine, anus and rectum
  • HBP (Hepato Pancreato Biliary) - liver, pancreas and gallbladder

With so many parts and processes working together to ensure effective digestion and waste removal, a problem of any type within the digestive system has the potential to significantly impact both your health and your quality of life.

These problems may be the result of disease, dysfunction or damage, and will often cause concerning symptoms such as abdominal pain, changed bowel habits or heartburn. 

The Consultant Gastroenterologists at The Meriden Hospital assess, diagnose and treat a very wide spectrum of digestive system complaints and concerns.

If you are worried at all about any of the symptoms (described below), they would be delighted to help you too.

People who visit a Consultant Gastroenterologist here at The Meriden often have certain symptoms that can indicate a problem somewhere within the digestive system. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Blood in vomit
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Other altered bowel habits
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rectal bleeding – may be visible or hidden (occult)
  • Acid reflux/heartburn
  • Jaundice (yellow discolouration of skin)
  • Abnormal results from a liver function test

For any of these symptoms, it is always a sensible course of action to get expert assessment and guidance. While it may be found that your symptoms are nothing to be concerned about, for your peace of mind, a consultation with a Consultant Gastroenterologist at The Meriden can help find out what is causing them and how they can be best treated.

Some of the common conditions that can affect the normal function of the digestive system are:

  • Cancer - oesophageal, bowel, liver, bile duct or pancreatic
  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) – Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis
  •  Indigestion (dyspepsia)
  • Diverticulitis – diverticula are small pockets that may 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 form in the gall bladder
  • Liver abscess
  • GERD/GORD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Peptic ulcer disease

Due to the overlapping processes and function of many parts of the digestive system, many of these conditions can have quite similar symptoms. The expertise of a Consultant Gastroenterologist helps them to more easily narrow down the potential causes of your specific symptoms.

Many GI conditions are more easily and successfully treated at the earliest possible stage. This is why it is so important to seek medical advice as soon as possible when you first start noticing any symptoms. At The Meriden, we can easily and quickly book you a consultation with an experience Consultant Gastroenterologist. With earlier assessment and diagnosis, you will be able to start any treatment needed sooner.

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

  • The symptoms you have
  • How long you’ve had these symptoms
  • Whether your symptoms have been getting worse
  • Whether any particular foods, drinks or activities make your symptoms worse
  • Any ways your symptoms are impacting on your quality of life
  • Whether you have any specific concerns about any of your symptoms (for example, are you worried that a recent change in bowel habits mean you have bowel cancer?)

A clinical examination may be carried out during your consultation.

It may be that your medical history, symptoms and the results of the physical examination are all that is needed to make a diagnosis at this point. Alternatively, it may be determined that your symptoms are being caused by something that does not need treatment.

However, for many conditions and symptoms, further investigations may be needed for specific areas or functions of the digestive system.

One of the best ways to investigate GI symptoms is with an endoscopy. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a camera and light at one end. The camera transmits a live feed to a video screen.

Depending on your specific symptoms, you may need a Gastroscopy, a Colonoscopy, a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy or an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). If required, these are all easily and quickly arranged for you at The Meriden and will be carried out by your Consultant Gastroenterologist.

  • A gastroscopy is used to look at the upper part of the GI tract. Introduced into the body through the mouth, the endoscope is moved down the oesophagus, into the stomach and then into the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum).
  • A colonoscopy looks at the lower part of the GI tract. The endoscope is inserted into the rectum and then moved up and around the large intestine and into the lower part of the small intestine.
  • Aflexible sigmoidoscopy is commonly used when somebody has been experiencing rectal bleeding. It looks only at the left side of the bowel. The endoscope is introduced through the anus to allow your consultant to examine the lower part of your bowel. This can also be a helpful way of looking at haemorrhoids (piles).
  • An ERCP is used to investigate the liver, pancreas, gall bladder and bile ducts. Similar to a gastroscopy, the endoscope is put in through the mouth and then moved down into the stomach. A special dye that shows up on X-ray is then injected to show the function of the bile ducts and pancreatic duct. As well as being helpful for diagnostic purposes, an ERCP can be used to treat some conditions (this is known as a therapeutic investigation). For example, a blocked or narrowed bile duct can have a stent inserted to allow bile to drain. Gallstones in the bile duct can often be removed.

During any of these endoscopic investigations, your Consultant will be looking carefully for possible areas of concern, such as small lumps or a narrowing anywhere within the GI tract. A biopsy (small sample of tissue) may be taken and sent away for further analysis.

Although these investigations are not painful, they can be uncomfortable. You will be offered sedation) to help make things more comfortable for you, and gas & air (nitrous oxide) may be offered if you would prefer not have sedation.

Additional tests can also be helpful. These may include blood tests (including liver function tests), MRI scan, CT scan and ultrasound, all of which are available on-site at The Meriden and easily arranged if required.

Once the results of any further investigations are back, your Consultant will talk about treatment options with you, explaining the expected benefits as well as possible risks and complications, so that you can make an informed choice.

You will probably have some questions at this stage, and your Consultant will be very happy to discuss these with you, as well as any concerns you have.

Some conditions will require referral to a specialist in another field of medicine. (For example, if bowel cancer is discovered you will need to be referred to the Oncology team.) With fast access to leading experts in the different areas of medicine on-site, this is easily arranged at The Meriden.

Many of the people seen by our Consultant Gastroenterologists have been referred directly to us by their GP people, another consultant or their private medical insurance provider. Other self-refer because they are concerned about their symptoms and don’t want to have to wait to get a referral letter from their GP. We see both privately insured and self-funded patients. 

Many of our patients live in Coventry and the surrounding areas, but excellent road links make it very easy to visit us from any part of Warwickshire. People also visit from Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Birmingham for their Gastroenterology assessment and treatment.

When you visit one of the Consultant Gastroenterologists at The Meriden Hospital in Coventry, you will benefit from:

  • Rapid access to an expert– GI symptoms can often be quite worrying to experience, and it can be very easy to fear they mean something bad like bowel cancer. You certainly won’t want to be waiting weeks to be seen. We can book an appointment for you with an experienced Gastroenterologist in Coventry very quickly, so that you can get clarity sooner about what is causing your symptoms.
  • Bespoke treatment – The complex nature of the digestive system and the conditions that can occur in it, means that treatment needs to be carefully tailored to your specific needs. Your Consultant will oversee every aspect of your care, and you will always see the same Consultant each time you visit.
  • Flexible appointments – Gastroenterology appointments are available throughout the week, and it is simple to book an appointment either online or by telephone. The majority of consultations are carried out in person here at The Meriden Hospital, but we can provide remote consultations by telephone or video call when required (and where clinically appropriate).
  • A team of experts – Some GI conditions will require input from other medical specialists. Your Consultant has fast access to experts in areas such as surgery, radiology, anaesthetics, nursing and oncology when needed. This multidisciplinary team approach ensures you will always see the most appropriate specialist for your particular condition.
  • Recommended by our patients – In an independent survey, 96.5% 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 Meriden Hospital soon. 

Specialists offering Gastroenterology

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Dr Esther Unitt

Consultant Gastroenterologist


The Meriden Hospital

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Dr Sankara Raman

Consultant Physician & Gastroenterologist


The Meriden Hospital

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Dr Duncan Edward Loft

Consultant Gastroenterologist


The Meriden Hospital

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Dr John Lin Hieng Wong

Consultant Gastroenterologist


The Meriden Hospital

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Professor Chuka Uche Nwokolo

Consultant Gastroenterologist & Honorary Professor of Gastroenterology


The Meriden Hospital

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