From Our Archives
Doing The Right Thing
Medical Author: Jay W. Marks, M.D.
I often am asked by other physicians to assist with their patients who have difficult-to-diagnose gastrointestinal problems. Many of these patients are suspected of having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Since there is no specific test for IBS, the diagnosis of IBS is made by recognizing a grouping of characteristic symptoms and excluding diseases that can mimic IBS. The issue always arises as to what constitutes complete testing in order to exclude diseases other than IBS. Not all patients thought to have IBS require complete testing. The patients who do are those with moderate or severe symptoms that do not respond sufficiently to simple and safe treatments. When the generalist (family practice physician or internist) is unable to make a diagnosis and/or recommend other treatment, it is time for the patient to see a specialist, a gastroenterologist.