What is a colon surgeon (a proctologist)? (2023)

A proctologist (now called a colon and rectal surgeon or colorectal surgeon) is a doctor who specializes in diseases and conditions of the lower digestive tract, including the anus, rectum, and rectum.colon. These doctors have general surgical training, but also more specialized training in the types of complex surgeries used to treat diseases and conditions of the lower digestive tract.

Conditions that a colon surgeon can treat include hemorrhoids, abscesses, anal fissures, pelvic floor disease, and colon cancer. They may do tests such as a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, which are used to screen for colon and rectal cancer.A colorectal surgeon may work with other members of a health care team, such as a gastroenterologist, family doctor, or oncologist to treat diseases in the lower digestive tract.

What is a colon surgeon (a proctologist)? (1)


A colon surgeon treats conditions that affect the lower digestive tract and may also specialize in procedures such as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, which are used to screen for colon cancer or diagnose other conditions. As a surgeon, you are different from a gastroenterologist, who is a doctor who treats diseases and conditions medically and does not perform surgery.

In the last part of the digestive tract are the parts of the body for which a colon surgeon has special training. This includes thecolon, the anus and the rectum. These parts (along with the cecum, which is the junction between the large and small intestines) are collectively known as the large intestine.

The large intestine consists of four parts: ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, and sigmoid colon.The ascending colon is located on the right side of the abdomen and is the first section after the cecum. The large intestine then fuses with the transverse intestine, which runs through the abdomen from right to left. Then comes another curve in the descending colon, which runs down the left side of the abdomen. The final part is the sigmoid, which curves toward the rectum.

The rectum is located between the large intestine and the anus and is the last part of the large intestine. It is a tubular structure in which the chair is held until it is ready to leave the body. The rectum can stretch to a certain extent thanks to the elastic muscles that cover it. Muscles help the rectum hold different amounts of stool before a bowel movement.

The anus is a group of muscles that form a sphincter (circle). Anal sphincters hold stool in place until it is time to have a bowel movement. At this point, the muscles release their tension and open to allow the stool to pass out of the body.

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There is a wide range of conditions that a colorectal surgeon is trained to manage and treat.

anal fissures.An anal fissure is a tear in the anal canal that can be painful and cause symptoms such as itching and bright red blood in the stool. Some of the conditions associated with anal fissures are constipation, hypothyroidism, and obesity. Many fissures can heal with home medical treatment and supportive care, but others may need it.Operationto treat them.

Anal warts.Anal warts are growths that appear inside the anal canal. They are caused by thehuman papilloma virus (HPV), which is commonly transmitted through sexual intercourse, but can also be infected in other ways. Anal warts can start small and grow over time. Removal can be done by a variety of methods, including cryotherapy, electrocautery, or laser treatments.

Blood in the stool. blood in or on stooloblack, tarry stoolsit is never normal; they are signs that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. A colorectal surgeon can help determine what is causing the bleeding. Although hemorrhoids are common and will bleed, they should still be evaluated by a doctor for the possibility of another cause of rectal bleeding. It is not safe to assume that the bleeding is due to hemorrhoids, even if they have been a problem in the past.

colon polyps.Polyps are growths that appear on the lining of the rectum and colon. Polyps can grow over time and lead to the development of colon cancer. They can cause bleeding, and when they enlarge, you may experience symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal pain, but in most cases, they do not cause any symptoms. The removal of polyps, which can be done during a colonoscopy, prevents them from growing and becoming cancerous.

colon cancer.Colon and rectal cancer begins as a polyp. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include age (over 50 years), a family history of the disease, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Colon and rectal surgeons are trained to perform colorectal cancer screening tests (such as colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy) as well as the different types of surgery that may be used to treat this disease.

constipation.Hard bowel movements or going to the bathroom infrequently have many causes. In most cases, it can be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, but a colon surgeon can help evaluate constipation and determine if there is a more serious cause.

Diarrhea.There are many causes for loose stools, and they often go away on their own, but with chronic, persistent diarrhea, it may be necessary to examine the colon to see if something is there that is causing the diarrhea.

diverticulosis.About half of people over the age of 60 have bulges in the colon called diverticula. In most cases they do not cause symptoms, but in some people they can become inflamed and cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, nausea, fever, or vomiting.

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fistulas.A fistula is an abnormal connection (tunnel-like) between two body structures. If a fistula occurs in the lower digestive tract (such ascolon and vagina), a colorectal surgeon may be consulted for treatment.

Hemorrhoids.A swollen vein in the anal canal or rectum can cause pain, itching, and bleeding. Hemorrhoids can often be treated with home measures, but sometimes a colorectal surgeon is needed to evaluate and prescribe other treatment measures, including surgery.

incontinence.Loss of control over bowel movements, or bowel movements, is a common problem that can affect quality of life. A colon surgeon can order various tests to determine the cause of fecal incontinence and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis can affect different parts of the digestive tract. A gastroenterologist medically treats these conditions, sometimes in collaboration with a colorectal surgeon who has specialized training in surgeries performed to treat these conditions.

Prolapso rectal.AProlapso rectalThis is when the rectum extends out of the anus. This is more common in older people and in women after having a baby, and symptoms can include bleeding from the rectum and tissue that can be seen/felt outside the anus.

Rectocele.A rectocele is a condition that occurs when the layer of tissue between the rectum and the vagina becomes weak. This causes the rectum to expand and push toward the back wall of the vagina. A rectocele often causes no symptoms, but it can also be associated with constipation, rectal pain, incontinence, painful intercourse, and vaginal bleeding. In many cases, dietary changes and therapy, such as biofeedback, can help symptoms, but in other cases, surgery can be done.

Process engineering experience

A colorectal surgeon also has specialized training in performing certain types of endoscopic surgeries and procedures. An endoscopy is a type of procedure that examines the inside of an internal organ, such as the colon, vagina, or bladder.A colorectal surgeon can perform a variety of procedures to diagnose or evaluate conditions that affect the lower digestive tract.


A colonoscopy, which is a test that examines the anus, rectum, and large intestine, is done for a variety of reasons. It can be used to screen for cancer of the colon and rectum, to look for the cause of symptoms such as bleeding from the rectum, or as part of ongoing treatment for IBD.

Colonoscopy: Overview

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A sigmoidoscopy is used to look inside the last section of the large intestine, the sigmoid colon. This test can be used to screen for colon cancer or to evaluate hemorrhoids or other conditions that may affect this section of the colon.

What is sigmoidoscopy?

Colon and rectal surgeons also perform several types of specialized surgeries on the colon, rectum, and anus. There are a variety of surgeries that these doctors are trained in.

hemorrhoid surgery

In some cases, hemorrhoids do notresponds to home care and requires surgery. Hemorrhoids can be removed by rubber band ligation or laser coagulation.hemorrhoidectomy.

fistula surgery

Fistulas can be opened by specialized operations, either afistulotomyor fistulectomy to promote healing. Laser coagulation can also be used to treat fistulas.

stomach surgery

Colon and rectal surgeons are completedileostomyYcolostomySurgery to remove part or all of the colon (acolectomy) and a stoma is created.


Polyps are often removedduring a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to prevent them from turning into cancer.


resection surgery

resection surgeryRemoval of part of the small or large intestine may be done to treat colon cancer or Crohn's disease.

Training and Certification

A colon surgeon has experience in general surgery of all parts of the digestive tract, but later specializes in the lower digestive tract. Training for this specialty begins with four years in a bachelor's degree and then four more years in an accredited medical program. The next step is surgical residency, which can last five or six years. This is followed by another one to two years of specialized training in colon and rectal surgery.

Colon and rectal surgery is already a subspecialty, but some surgeons can also learn to perform certain less frequently performed procedures and therefore become more proficient at them.

After approximately 14 years of higher education, a colon and rectal surgeon may apply for board certification. These doctors are certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery, and may be members of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons.

Dating Tips

A colon surgeon is a specialist, so some insurance companies may require a referral from an internist, family doctor, or gastroenterologist before scheduling an appointment. Calling your insurance company (the number is on the back of your insurance card) can help determine if a referral is required. In some cases, a referral from a doctor in an emergency care or outpatient medical office may also be acceptable.

Also, some colorectal surgeons will request a referral before seeing new patients. You may also want medical records from the referring family doctor or other doctor (for example, a gynecologist or gastroenterologist). It can take time and several phone calls to get referrals and transfer records, which can be frustrating. However, it is important to go to a specialist in lower digestive tract problems for diagnosis and then appropriate treatment.

Insurance companies can also be helpful in locating a colorectal surgeon who is in the network. doctor finder belowDie American Society of Colon Surgeons and Rektal, DieCrohn's and Colitis Foundation, and theAmerican College of Surgeonswe also offer doctor locator services that can help you find a surgeon

A word from Verywell

The need to see a colon and rectal surgeon can evoke many emotions. Some people may feel embarrassed to discuss problems with the lower digestive system. It may help to remember that doctors who specialize in disorders that affect the colon, rectum, and anus have chosen to work in this field and are interested in helping their patients make a diagnosis and receive treatment. Every day you see patients with similar problems, whether it's bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, or incontinence. They are aware that their patients may be reluctant to discuss bathroom issues, and it may help to acknowledge during the appointment that it is a sensitive subject to discuss openly. Being open and letting your surgeon know of any symptoms you are experiencing will help identify the source of the problem and get you the care you need.


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