Who is a Proctologist?
Proctologists are the medical health professionals who treat disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, rectum, and anus.(1)
What Are The Conditions Treated By A Proctologist?
Conditions treated by a proctologist are:
- Abscess and fistulae, infection near the anus and rectum
- Anal skin tags, small bumps of skin around the anus
- Colon and rectal cancer, cancer that begins in the rectum
- Diverticulitis, a disease in which pouches form in the weak spots in the digestive tract
- Hemorrhoids, swollen veins that occur internally or externally around the anus
- Fissures that are seen as small tears in the lining of the anus
- Inflammatory bowel disease, a group of inflammatory disease that includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Polyps, precancerous growths that can become colorectal cancer
- Rectal prolapse, a condition in which rectum begins to fall into the position of the anal opening
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome that includes symptoms such as bloating, cramping, constipation and diarrhea.
What Are The Procedures Done By A Proctologist?
There are a variety of procedures performed by a proctologist that include:
- Anoscopy: It is a procedure that helps identify abnormalities of the anus and rectum.
- Colonoscopy: A procedure in which the doctor examines the entire colon for colorectal cancer. It also helps remove polyps
- Digital rectal examination: A proctologist performs digital rectal examinations with his fingers to examine the lower rectum and prostate.
- Endorectal ultrasound: This is an imaging test to help diagnose colorectal cancer
- Proctoscopy: It is a procedure done by a proctologist to examine the rectum and anus. During this procedure, the tissue is taken from the rectum or anus. It also helps remove the polyp.
- Sigmoidoscopy: In this procedure, the lower third of the colon i.e. the sigmoid colon is examined(2)
A proctologist is trained with various surgical techniques that include laparoscopy and robotic surgery.
When Do You Need To See A Proctologist?
You would have to visit a proctologist in case of the following symptoms:
- Anal and rectal pain
- Fecal incontinence
- Anal itching or burning
- Bleeding or other discharge from the anus
- Fecal incontinence
- Anal warts, bumps, or foreign body sensation
You need to tell the surgeon or your proctologist about the complete symptom history to help them diagnose the condition and to choose an apt treatment plan.
To avoid going through unnecessary tests and procedures it is important to speak to your proctologist openly. This can prevent delays in diagnosis and treatment that may negatively impact health.
Training and Certification of a Proctologist
The training and certification of a proctologist require many years of training that include:
- 4 years of bachelor’s degree in a medical school
- A 5 years training program in general surgery
- One-year training for colon and rectal surgery
The certification requires ongoing written and oral examination. The surgeons need to participate in continuing education in the field of proctology.
He should be licensed to practice in a particular state.
Proctologists are highly specialized doctors and are also known as colorectal surgeons. They diagnose and treat conditions of the entire gastrointestinal tract including anus and rectum.
Those with symptoms in the anal or rectal region can get referred to a proctologist for better examination and evaluation.