What is a Proctologist?
A Proctologist is a surgeon who specializes in the diseases of the colon, rectum and anus
. Proctologists are also known as Colorectal Surgeons.
A Brief History of Proctologists
Proctology was started in London at St. Mark’s Hospital in 1835. It was the main establishment in treating diseases of the colon and rectum at the time. Doctors would perform research, teach trainees and collaborate with each other to improve proctology.
The United States, however, lagged behind in the field until in 1899 in Columbus Ohio, thirteen physicians created the American Proctologic Society. Prior to its establishment, patients with issues of the anus and rectum were often ignored, leaving patients to find help from non-medical doctors. With the American Proctologic Society, it was the “beginning to the end” of ignorance and lack of compassion for patients suffering with embarrassing problems doctors did not want to deal with.
The founders and other members created many instruments and procedures to help evaluate and treat diseases of the anus and rectum. These instruments included:
- The Fansler anoscope
- Smith-Buie rectal retractor
- Hirschman anoscope
- Pennington clamp sigmoidoscope
Many original research articles and books were published on the disease of the colon and rectum. Interests in the specialty of colon and rectal surgery grew as the organization paved the way.
From 1949 the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery continued to grow in membership and fellowship training. The society formed its own journal, Diseases of the Colon & Rectum in 1957 and multiple text books on Colon and Rectal surgery have been written.
Over time the specialty of colon and rectal surgery has become well established as a forefront of diagnosing and treating diseases of the colon, rectum and anus.
What Conditions do Proctologists Treat?
Proctologists or Colorectal surgeons treat many conditions of the large intestinal tract.
The large intestinal track includes the colon, rectum, anal canal, and perianal area. These conditions include:
- Hemorrhoids – Swollen veins that can occur internally and externally around the anus
- Fissures – Small tears in the anal lining
- Fistula-in-ano – infected tunnel between the skin and anus
- Pilonidal Cysts – abnormal skin growth located at the tailbone that contains hair and skin
- Fissure-in-ano – small tear in the lining of the anus
- Colon and Rectal Cancer – cancers of the colon and rectal regions
- Rectal Prolapse – a condition when the rectum slips out through the anal opening
- Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis
- Condyloma (warts)
- Genital herpes
When to See a Proctologist
Often people will search for a proctologist online as patients are too embarrassed to tell anyone, even their doctor, about issues they are having with the anus. Below are some of the reasons to seek out the help of a specialist.
- Anal itching or burning
- Bleeding or other discharge from the anus
- Rectal pain
- Anal warts or bumps
- Sharp pain and bleeding with a bowel movement
- Painful lump on the rump.
- Change in bowel habits
- Screening for a colonoscopy (Starts at age 45 or younger if any bleeding)
- Any other changes to your anus and rectal area that are concerning. Your primary care doctor can recommend if you need one
Finding a Proctologist
If you have concerns about changes in your system, contact your primary care doctor who can give recommendations or go online and search for a proctologist. A good source of proctologists and colorectal surgeons is the ASCRS website
to find one near you.
Here at T.O.P – Thousand Oaks Proctology, office of Dr. David Rosenfeld, we have the experience to help ease your worries and educate you about different conditions. We offer compassionate care with a touch of humor
. Contact us
to request an appointment.
- Gathright B, Bragaw R. From Mathews to The Millennium – A Century of Achievement. A History of the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons 1899-1999. Walsworth Publishing Company