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    What is a Proctologist?

    The colonoscopy procedure is often performed by a proctologist, also known as a colorectal surgeon.  In the past this term was more widely used, today the term proctologist is rarely used and further delineation into colorectal surgeon or gastroenterologist is preferred.  Proctologists are trained in the diseases of the rectum, anus and colon. They often work with gastroenterologists, urologists, obstetricians and other specialized medical doctors to provide attention to patients suffering from colon-related issues.

    Before and during a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist or GI doctor most likely works closely with a proctologist who can treat any abnormalities detected during a colon screening. These surgeons will treat a variety of colorectal disorders including inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer and diverticulitis (or colon pouches). In addition, they may also deal with diseases involving the skin, breast and hernias.

     Colorectal surgeons specialize in the field of medicine called proctology. As stated, they deal with disorders relating to the colon, rectum and anus.  Possible disorders a colorectal surgeon might encounter and treat with surgery include:

    • Hemorrhoids—swollen or inflamed veins located near the rectum and anus
    • Anal Fissures—painful tears or perforations in the anus tissue
    • Fistulas—abnormal connections between areas of tissue in the colorectal area of the body
    • Constipation—difficulty passing stool or irregular bowel movements
    • Fecal Incontinence—inability to control bowel movements, resulting in either untimely bowel movements or excessive bowel movements in a given time period
    • Rectal Prolapse—structural distortion of colorectal tissue that causes rectal tissue to protrude through the anus
    • Imperforate Anus—a birth defect that causes malformation in the area of the rectum and anus
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease—chronic disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that may cause internal bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, among other conditions
    • Colorectal or Anal Cancer—cancer of the colon, rectum or anus
    • Malformations or Tearing Caused by Injury
    • Removal of Foreign Objects from the Colon

    Refer to our medical directory to find a proctologist or colorectal surgeon listed near you who can perform surgery to treat your gastrointestinal disorder.

    Reviewed 12/12/2011 by David M. Nolan, M.D.
    Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, 2011
    Currently a Fellow of Gastroenterology, at UCI 2011-2014