a gastroenterologist is an internist who has completed specialty training in the treatment of digestive disorders. digestive disorders include disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. in order to become board certified in gastroenterology, the doctor must first become board certified in internal medicine. in order to become eligible to even take the examination for board certification in gastroenterology, a gastrointestinal (gi) fellowship lasting an additional two to three years beyond an internal medicine residency must be completed.
during the course of their two to three years of training in gastroenterology, some gastroenterologists have little exposure to patients with liver disease.
a hepatologist is the most experienced and qualified type of doctor to treat people with liver disease. since there is currently no separate board certification examination in the field of hepatology, there is no official definition of a hepatologist. however, there are specialized training programs for doctors who are focused solely on liver disease. these are known as hepatology fellowships and typically last from one to two years.
a physician who successfully completes a hepatology fellowship is considered a hepatologist. most hepatologists, although not all, are also gastroenterologists. these doctors have successfully completed both a hepatology and a gastroenterology fellowship.
good question, i was wondering about that myself, why there aren't official liver doctors...it is such a complex organ. this sort of answers the question...