Proctology - Medical specialists
Proctology - Further information
Proctology is also known as colorectal surgery. Physicians in this field are thus called colorectal surgeons or proctologists.
Which illnesses do proctology specialists treat?
Proctologists may be called upon to diagnose and treat a diverse range of diseases and conditions, including:
- hemorrhoids, which are varicose, swollen or inflamed veins in and around the rectum and anus
- anal fissures, which are unusual breaks, tears or cracks in the skin of the anal wall, which can cause bleeding
- fistulas, which are abnormal passageways or connections between the rectum or other anorectal area and the skin surface, or else to blood vessels, intestines or other hollow organs
- severe constipation, which results from difficulties with bowel movements
- fecal incontinence, which results from a loss of control over bowel movements
- rectal prolapse, which results in the protrusion of the walls of the rectum through the anus and outside the body
- birth defects, such as an imperforate anus (a usually inherited malformation of the anus)
- treatment of severe colic disorders, such as Crohn's disease, which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease
- colorectal cancer, which is a cancer of the colon and rectum, also commonly known as bowel cancer
- repositioning of the rectal area if it should fall away outside the body
- anal cancer, which is a rare form of cancer originating in the anal canal, rather than in the bowel itself
- anal abscesses, which are painful, boil-type swellings near the anus
- anal eczema, which is a skin condition that causes itching
- anal skin tags, which are harmless growths that can hang from the skin around the anus
- genital warts, which are small fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes that appear on or around the genital or anal area
- any injuries to the anal region
What treatment methods are used by proctology specialists?
Proctology specialists can offer both diagnostic procedures and surgical interventions.
Diagnostic techniques include:
- colonoscopy, which involves the minimally invasive endoscopic investigation of the large bowel and the distal region of the small bowel with a tiny camera attached to a flexible tube fed through the anus. This procedure allows the opportunity of a good visual diagnosis as well as facilitating the removal of suspected cancerous tissue for further biopsy examination.
- proctoscopy, which is a common medical procedure employing a surgical instrument known as a rectoscope (or proctoscope) used to perform investigations of the sigmoid colon, rectum or anal cavity.
- defecating proctography is a form of radiological imaging which can reveal the functional details of a patient's defecation. This technique is used to investigate conditions such as the incomplete release of stools.
- sigmoidoscopy is a similar procedure to a colonoscopy, though the area of exploration is instead limited to the final part of the colon.
Surgical interventions used to treat colorectal conditions include:
- colectomy, which involves the surgical removal of part, or sometimes all, of the colon
- ileocolostomy, which is an intervention to join the ileum (small intestine) to some part of the colon
- polypectomy, which is the surgical removal of an internal polyp
- strictureplasty, which is performed to ease bowel narrowing caused by scar tissue resulting from bowel inflammations, such as occurs in the case of Crohn’s disease
- haemorrhoidectomy, which can be performed to remove more serious haemorrhoid growths
- anoplasty, which involves the surgical reconstruction of the anus to restore normal function
The more modern surgical technique of laparoscopy has enabled proctology surgeons to use this minimally invasive technique for many colorectal surgical procedures.
What additional qualifications are required by proctology specialists?
Now generally known as colorectal surgeons, proctologists first train in general surgery, where they learn to treat the whole of the gastrointestinal tract. Over and above their general surgery skills and experience, colorectal surgeons receive additional fellowship training that covers areas such as the small intestine, colon and rectum, as well as the anal canal. Perhaps most important of all, and unlike a (non-surgical) gastroenterologist, for example, colon and rectal surgeons are qualified to diagnose and treat all parts of the digestive tract and offer either medication or surgery as an appropriate response whenever required.