Colon and rectal surgery is the medical specialty that deals with diseases and disorders of the lower intestinal tract, colon, rectum, and anus. The specialty was previously known as proctology, and some physicians who specifically treat diseases of the rectum and anus may still call themselves proctologists; but in general that term is not currently used. While colon and rectal surgery is related to gastroenterology, only colon and rectal surgeons can provide surgical care.
Colon and rectal surgeons can offer routine screenings for common health conditions affecting the colon and rectum. They have also undergone advanced surgical training, and they are able to treat conditions affecting the lower intestinal tract with surgery when needed.
Some conditions that a colon and rectal surgeon might treat include:
Serious and chronic constipation
Anal fissures, or tears in the skin around the anus
Anal abscesses and fistulae
Colon and rectal cancer
Colon and rectal surgeons perform various procedures to keep patients healthy, such as colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies. These tests use long, flexible tubes to examine the lining of the colon in case of pain or bleeding, or to look for signs of cancer or polyps. If a patient's intestines are severely diseased and not working well, a colon and rectal surgeon may perform an ostomy, where the healthy part of the intestines are connected to a tube or pouch on the outside of the body. Colorectal surgeons may also remove hemorrhoids, perform laparoscopic surgery on a tumor, or even offer genetic counseling to patients with a family history of colorectal cancers.
Colon and rectal conditions can be some of the most uncomfortable problems to endure. Even if your intestinal problem is severe, colon and rectal surgeons can help you lead a long, healthy, and more enjoyable life.