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Proctologists are surgeons who diagnose and treat disorders of the rectum, anus, and entire gastrointestinal tract – though the word “proctologist” is a bit outdated. These days, the preferred term is “colorectal surgeon” or “colon and rectal surgeon.”

Colorectal surgeons are highly trained specialists who focus on disorders of the colon, rectum, and anus. They also have expertise in the entire gastrointestinal tract.

Why do you need to see them?

Colorectal surgeons manage diseases of the intestinal tract. This tract consists of the colon, rectum, anal canal, and perianal area. Conditions of the intestinal tract include:

  • Abscesses and fistulae. These are infections near the anus and rectum.
  • Anal skin tags. These are small bumps of skin around the anus.
  • Colon and rectal cancer. This cancer begins in the colon or rectum.
  • Diverticulitis. This is a disease in which pouches form in weak spots along the digestive tract.
  • Fissures. These are small tears in the anal lining.
  • Hemorrhoids. These are swollen veins that can occur internally or externally around the anus.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a group of inflammatory disorders that includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a group of intestinal symptoms unrelated to IBD that can include bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea.
  • Polyps. These are precancerous growths that have the potential to become colorectal cancer.
  • Rectal prolapse. This is a condition in which the rectum begins to fall from its position into the anal opening.

Colorectal surgeons can also treat sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including:

  • chlamydia
  • genital herpes
  • gonorrhea
  • syphilis

What do they do?

Colorectal surgeons are trained to perform a variety of diagnostic tests and surgical procedures. Their most common procedures include the following:

  • Anoscopy. This procedure helps identify abnormalities in the anus and rectum.
  • Colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, the doctor examines the entire colon and screens for colorectal cancer. They may also remove polyps.
  • Digital rectal exams. During this physical examination, the doctor uses their fingers to examine the lower rectum and prostate.
  • Endorectal ultrasound. This is an imaging test to help diagnose colorectal cancers.
  • Proctoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor examines the rectum and anus, takes tissue for biopsy, or removes polyps.
  • Sigmoidoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor examines the lower third of your colon, which is called the sigmoid colon.

Colorectal surgeons are trained in a variety of surgical techniques, including laparoscopy and robotic surgery. They can also offer nonsurgical treatment for some disorders.

Physician consultation is a good opportunity and you should be prepared for it.

  • Carry all necessary medical records for the discussion. It helps in better understanding your heart condition and avoids repetition of diagnostic tests.
  • Make sure you discuss your past medical history, surgical history, family history, and medications that you are taking.
  • Discuss about your lifestyle habits, dietary habits and also about your profession. Your lifestyle and nature of job may be associated with the risk for cardiac diseases.
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