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What is a Proctologist?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A proctologist, more often referred to as a colorectal surgeon, is a medical professional who specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus. The word is a compound of two Greek words, proktos, for behind or rear quarters, and logy, for study. A proctologist sees a variety of conditions in the course of his or her practice, and also often works closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women. In addition, a proctologist may work with an obstetrician/gynecologist to deal with specifically female issues or a gastroenterologist to deal with diseases of the gut.

The conditions that a proctologist treats are quite varied. Fecal incontinence caused by medical issues will be treated by a proctologist, as is severe constipation. In addition, cancers of the colon and rectum are the purview of a proctologist, as are fissures, fistulas, and hemorrhoids. In the case of a rectal prolapse, when the rectum turns itself inside out, a proctologist will step in to treat the condition and the underlying cause, if one can be identified. Often, a proctologist finds him or herself performing complex surgeries using highly advanced equipment to make the surgery as noninvasive as possible.

Usually, a proctologist is consulted when a patient needs surgery, or has a complex proctological condition with requires the attention of a professional. Basic problems like small hemorrhoids and mild constipation may be treated by a general practitioner. However, when it becomes apparent that more investigation of a problem is needed, or a patient requires specialized surgery, a general practitioner will refer the patient to a proctologist for high quality care. A referral ensures that the patient sees a professional about his or her issue, no matter how embarrassing it must feel, and that the problem is quickly and appropriately dealt with.

People who would like to seek out their own proctologist can take advantage of several professional organizations which are happy to assist patients with a referral. If you are interested in a career in colorectal surgery, start by taking lots of science and math in high school, and focusing on biology and anatomy in your undergraduate education. Try to attend a medical school with an excellent colorectal program, and plan on spending several years in a surgery residency learning the tricks of the trade.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon999083 — On Oct 23, 2017

It would appear that most of you on here need to see a doctor.

By anon997035 — On Nov 08, 2016

It's been 4 months that I have been suffering with anal itch and it gets really unbearable. I feel embarrassed to go for a check up and tend to scratch a lot to relieve the itch. What can I use to get rid of this itch?

By anon344690 — On Aug 11, 2013

Everyone with "rear end" problems should be using a bidet seat. Water cleans better, feels better, and is more sanitary than toilet paper. I have them but only notice when I have to wipe with paper. Look online and search for Spaloo. It will be the best money you ever spent.

By anon344483 — On Aug 10, 2013

A photon beam can make your rectum itch. The technology is probably expensive and that sort of precision isn't probably common, but beams that can pass through walls and even the cheek muscles to make a person's rectum itchy are nothing special.

Think: is it itchy on the left side or the right side, to front of body or the back? Why would a person make your butt itchy - what sort of message does that communicate? Is the itchiness coming on instantly and coinciding with something you have said and done? How rapidly does it abate? Are there any visible signs of causes? Have specialists, creams or treatments failed to resolve it? Is it only an issue when you are in a particular place?

To determine if an itchy rectum is a result of worms, bacteria or fungi, a physical condition, or something entirely external takes a substantial amount of studied attention.

By anon316968 — On Jan 31, 2013

The past week I have had constant anal leakage. My anus and rectum are very red and tender. I'm too scared to go to my doctor and address the problem. The diarrhea has been bloody and extremely painful. I need some alternative options on how to treat the problem without going to the doctor. Maybe like a thick cream I can apply directly to my anus. Thanks!

By anon297597 — On Oct 16, 2012

I had severe itching in my anus several years ago. My doctor said it was athletes foot in the rear (go figure) and prescribed antifungal/corticosteroid combo cream. Cleared it right up.

As for a bleeding/sensitive anus, toilet paper is too rough. I keep a big bottle of hypoallergenic lotion by the toilet and put some on the toilet paper before I wipe. Gets it clean and doesn't irritate the butt!

By SpalooBruce — On Jul 05, 2012

Why don't proctologists recommend Spaloo spa seats instead of wet wipes? Water cleans better, feels better and is more sanitary than toilet paper or wet wipes. About 80 percent of Japanese homes use these types of seats.

By kevanepps6 — On Apr 17, 2011

I got to go in for this test with a proctlolgist. A friend of mine had it done and said it was very painful, and he told me that they put a thick hollow tube in your butt then they clean you out with water and vinegar, then they give you novocaine shots and then go and take a sample. Whats the name of the test? If anyone knows?

By anon155050 — On Feb 22, 2011

I have had rectal bleeding for a while now, and I thought it was hemorrhoids but I am not sure now. what should i do? It seems to happen mostly when I am constipated.

By anon72299 — On Mar 22, 2010

I'm seven months pregnant and about three months ago, I saw something wrong in my body, and last night starting having pain. I guess it's hemorrhoids, but what can I do? And how much is surgery? Thank you. I'm so scared.

By anon49571 — On Oct 21, 2009

I have had five fistulas in a 10-year period of time and two operations to remove them, but they keep coming back. Is there any procedure that can be performed to prevent them from coming back?

By anon44087 — On Sep 04, 2009

Nut allergies explain for me what post number 5 has described.

By anon43668 — On Aug 31, 2009

hey anon, I had the same problem (pain and iching) for sometime. Later I ordered online the Neo-healer ointment and I also changed my diet to fiber like vegetables and more of fruits and drink a lot of water every day. Now I am almost 90 percent free from the pain and itching. tek

By anon33073 — On May 31, 2009

I have constant pain and itching. I have been to a dozen Dr.'s and no one has been able to help me. Lots of lotions and diet suggestions but the sharp pains and itching continue. Any ideas as to what this may be?

By anon32156 — On May 17, 2009

At first I thought that the pain was my tail bone, my doctor ordered an x-ray and it came back negative, but I'm having terrible pain in my anus, could it be showing of blood, could it be hemorrhoids?

By anon20302 — On Oct 29, 2008

What is irritable bowel syndrome, anyway?

By anon3118 — On Aug 12, 2007

I have had 4 operations to remove the protruding part of my colon. I also have fecal incontenance. Is there any procedure that can be performed to restrict the incontenance? Thank you for any help I can receive.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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