What is a Colorectal Surgeon?

A colorectal surgeon is a physician who specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract.

These physicians were originally called proctologists, but the term 'proctologist' hasn't officially been used since 1961. These specialists now prefer to be called colorectal surgeons, as proctology only refers to the treatment of the anus, rectum, and sigmoid colon. However, colorectal surgeons specialize not only in that area, but in the entire gastric tract.

What does a Colorectal Surgeon do?

Typically, a colorectal surgeon is consulted when a patient needs surgery, or has a complex condition which requires attention.

Basic problems like small hemorrhoids and mild constipation can be treated by a general physician. However, when it becomes evident that more investigation is needed, or a patient needs specialized surgery, a general physician will refer the patient to a colorectal surgeon.

A colorectal surgeon performing surgery on a patient.

A colerectal surgeon works closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.

The conditions that colorectal surgeons treat are quite varied. Some examples of conditions are fecal incontinence, severe constipation, cancers of the colon and rectum, fissures, fistulas, and hemorrhoids. They may also treat cases of rectal prolapse (this is when the rectum turns itself inside out).

Colorectal surgeons perform surgeries by using highly advanced equipment to make the surgery as noninvasive as possible. Some examples of tests or surgical procedures that a colorectal surgeon may perform are colonoscopies, colectomies or colon resections, a proctectomy or rectal removal, or a hemorrhoidectomy.

Some colorectal surgeons will have specialized knowledge of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and have more experience with common IBD surgeries such as resections, ostomies, j-pouches, and strictureplasty. At times, a colorectal surgeon is consulted simply to give a patient more options, or to help determine if it might be better to wait for surgery.

Are you suited to be a colorectal surgeon?

Colorectal surgeons have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.

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What is the workplace of a Colorectal Surgeon like?

Colorectal surgeons work in hospitals and perform hundreds of operations each year, often using minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery.

They are also active in research, finding new and better ways of diagnosing and treating disease, and in educating the next generation of surgeons.

Colorectal Surgeons are also known as:
Proctologist Coloproctologist Colon and Rectal Surgeon