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Waitematā DHB Gastroenterology Services

Public Service, Gastroenterology & Hepatology (Liver)


8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.


What is Gastroenterology?

Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine that looks at diseases of the oesophagus (gullet), stomach, small and large intestines (bowel), liver, gallbladder and pancreas. 

The oesophagus is the tube that joins your mouth with your stomach. It is a muscular tube that contracts to push the food through when you swallow.

The stomach is where food is broken down by acid and emptied into your intestines. The stomach has special cells lining its wall to protect it from these acids.

The intestines consist of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum – different sections of small intestine) and the large intestine (colon and rectum).  As food passes through the small intestine, nutrients are broken down and absorbed.  When it passes into the colon, water is absorbed.  The waste that is left is passed as faeces (poo).

The liver is roughly the size of a football and is on your right side just under your ribs. It stores vitamins, sugar and iron which are used by cells in the body for energy. It also clears the body of waste products and drugs, produces substances that are used to help blood clot and aid the immune system, and produces bile which aids in digestion.

The pancreas is an elongated organ that lies in the back of the mid-abdomen. It is responsible for producing digestive juices and certain hormones including insulin, the main hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar.
A gastroenterologist is a doctor specialising in the field of medicine which involves these closely related organs.


Referral Expectations

Your GP will refer you to our department if they are concerned that you have problems that require a specialist gastroenterology consultation regarding the diagnosis or treatment of the condition. You may also be referred directly to the Gastroenterology Department for a specific procedure without a prior clinic appointment.
Waiting times for clinics range from 0-6 months depending on the urgency, which is assessed from the letter we receive from your GP.
Depending on where you live in our catchment area and what procedures or tests you need, your appointment will either be at North Shore Hospital or Waitakere Hospital. The letter you receive from the hospital will give full details of the time and place of your appointment.
A clinic appointment (for a new patient) lasts 30 minutes.  A history of your symptoms will be taken as well as a review of any medications you are on (please bring these with you).  You will then be examined which may involve, depending on your complaints, a rectal examination.  This involves the insertion of the doctor’s finger or a tube into your bottom to examine the inside (sigmoidoscopy).
Depending on your problem you may be referred for an endoscopic examination such as a gastroscopy, colonoscopy or Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography (ERCP).

If this is the case you will receive full written instructions from the Gastroenterology Department prior to your appointment. Please read these carefully and contact us if you have any difficulties with the instructions. Please look at the downloads listed to the left of the screen for more information on these tests.
Following a clinic appointment you may be referred on for a radiology test such as Barium x-rays, ultrasound scan, CT scan or MRI (brain or body x-rays). You will receive an appointment for these tests from the X-ray Departments at North Shore and Waitakere Hospitals.


8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Mon – Fri8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Common Conditions / Procedures / Treatments

  • Gastroscopy

    This is a procedure which allows the doctor to see inside your oesophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum) and examine the lining directly. … More PDF

  • Colonoscopy

    This is a procedure which allows the doctor to see inside your large bowel and examine the surfaces directly and take biopsies (samples of tissue) if needed.  Treatment of conditions can also be undertaken.… More

  • Enteroscopy

    This procedure is similar to a gastroscopy but uses a much longer tube in order to examine the small intestine.The procedure takes 20-60 minutes and often involves x-ray screening to determine the position of the tube in the small intestine. More PDF

  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

    Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a limited form of colonoscopy in which only the lower part of the colon and rectum is examined.… More PDF

  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography (ERCP)

    A flexible tube with a tiny video camera attached (endoscope) is inserted through the mouth into the stomach and small intestine while you are under sedation (medication to make you drowsy).… More PDF

  • Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)

    Endoscopic ultrasound is a technique which uses a specialised gastroscope to obtain ultrasound images of the oesophagus, lungs, stomach, duodenum, pancreas and bile ducts.… More PDF

  • Urea Breath Test

    This is a simple painless test to determine whether the bacteria Helicobacter pylori is present in the stomach.… More

  • Liver Biopsy

    The best way to establish what type of liver disease is present and the extent of the disease, is a biopsy.… More

  • Hepatitis

    This is inflammation of the liver, commonly caused by viruses.  Hepatitis B and C are viruses that can cause chronic (long term) inflammation and damage to the liver.… More

  • Cirrhosis

    Cirrhosis is the term used to describe a diseased liver that has been badly scarred, usually due to many years of injury.… More

  • Peptic Ulcers

    Peptic ulcers are areas of deep erosions that form in the lining of the digestive tract.… More

  • Polyps

    Polyps are small growths in the lining of the intestine.… More

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

    There are two types of IBD, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In these conditions, the immune system attacks the lining of the colon causing inflammation and ulceration, bleeding and diarrhoea. In ulcerative colitis this only involves the large intestine, whereas in Crohn’s disease areas within the entire intestine can be… More

Document Downloads

Contact Details

North Shore Hospital

North Auckland

8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

More details…

Waitakere Hospital

West Auckland

8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

More details…

This page was last updated at 4:00PM on September 6, 2021. This information is reviewed and edited by Waitematā DHB Gastroenterology Services.