What is Proctology?
Gastrointestinal tract in the humans is the most critical system. The science of understanding and working with the various processes which are involved in the lower portion of gastrointestinal tract is known as proctology. If there is any problem in any of the processes, then the person may experience pain and the problem can be debilitating. Proctology is also referred to as colorectal exam. They usually find answers that will enable the correct working of the system again. It is important to find the source and severity of the problem. Usually if the general practitioner or the doctor is not able to find the answer, then they recommend a proctologist.
During a proctology exam, various instruments are used to find the problem with the GI system. These tools enable the proctologist to look inside the body so as to detect the problem. Technology has advanced, fiber optics allow the physicians to insert the instrument inside the body through a small hole. It works like a mini video camera and permits to view and detect the problem which otherwise would have been difficult to do without a large incision.
What is a Proctologist?
A proctologist is a specialized well trained medical professional. They handle disorders related to rectum, anus and colon. They discuss medical history with the patients and any possible symptoms the patient is experiencing. With that in mind, it becomes quite obvious why medical students looking to become proctologists have to undergo a lot of practical training in hospitals. In some cases, they seek academic assistance with their general Ed classes since their on-site duties are quite demanding at times. With the help of this information and by using different techniques and instruments to inspect the colon and rectum, the proctologist diagnoses the disease and disorders. Treatment can include prescribed medications, surgical procedures which involve removing or repairing the infected part/s of the body.
A proctologist is a physician that deals with the final part of the digestive tract that is the rectum, colon and anus. They determine the course of action, prescribe medications and sometimes get involved in the treatment procedure. They are also referred to as colorectal surgeons. Not used widely these days, the term proctologist has been derived from the Greek word 'proktos', which means rear quarters or hind and logy means to study. During the normal practices, a variety of conditions are observed by proctologist. These include;
- Severe constipation
- Colon cancer
- Fecal inconsistency
- Rectal cancer
- Fissures, fistulas and hemorrhoids
- Infection or swelling in the rectum or anus
- Birth defects such as imperforated anus
- Colic disorders in Crohn’s disease
- Rectal prolapsed condition. In this the wall of the rectum protrudes into the anus.
- Reposition the rectal areas
Whenever a surgery is needed or there exists a proctologic condition that is complex, a proctologist is consulted. The surgery methods are non-invasive and patient is provided high quality care.
Duties of proctologist
- Firstly, the proctologist should be able to diagnose the condition correctly.
- The proctologist will examine to look for any signs of swelling, pain, abnormal growth, discomfort, constipation, in the areas of anus, rectal and colon.
- By performing routine tests such as biopsies, colonoscopies, the proctologist will decide the line of treatment for the existing condition.
- Provide holistic treatment.
- Suggest dietary changes and changes in lifestyle of the patient
- Prescribe correct medications and surgery needed to correct the existing condition.
- Commons surgeries performed by a proctologist are colorectomies, stricture plasties and polypectomies.
- Colorectomy - In this, the colon is repositioned or removed.
- Stricture plasties - The scar tissue from the bowels is removed.
- Polypectomies - Polyps are removed.
Proctologist may work in a clinic or hospital; they might also have a private practice. Generally, patient is referred by a general care physician to go to a proctologist.
They must be a graduate from an accredited university or college. After completing graduation in science, the person will go to medical followed by 2-4 years’ residency during which they study about general science. Then, they are trained on the areas of colon and rectum.
First, the person should become a medical doctor. The person should complete proctologist training program, after completing the program, the person should become a licensed practitioner. Proctologists are surgeons too. The person should first join a medical school and become a certified surgeon. Many medical schools provide the proctologist specialty program, which is of five years. This course involves surgical courses as well as diagnostic courses. A lot of hard work, time, focus and concentration is needed to study this course. In order to meet the needs of the patient, proctologists get affiliated at least to one major hospital.
Often the working hours of proctologists are long and irregular. They should be available to meet the needs of the patient, day or night. At work, they are expected to work in sterile and well-lit environment. They are expected to wear a specific uniform. They have to stand for long hours to perform surgeries.
Skills and specialization
The qualities a proctologist is expected to have are;
- Analytical skills should be strong
- Should be able to observe and attend to details
- Interpersonal and communication skills should be good
- Compassion and empathy
- Able to solve the problem and make a correct decision
- Physical fitness should be of good level
- Updated with the technology, interest in science and development and healthcare
Firstly, a proctologist should have excellent communication skills since they have to listen to the patient and their concerns. They should have the skill of explaining and making the patient understand the possible disease and the treatment they will have to endure. These include bowel disease, colon and rectum endoscopy, cancers, tumors and inflammatory bowel diseases. They also treat conditions such as Crohn’s disease, colon cancer, polyps and hemorrhoids.
Functions of proctologist
Proctologists specialize in a particular area of the body that is related to hemorrhoids. A proctologist not only treats hemorrhoids, but also many other conditions. Any disorder, problems, check-up related to rectum, anus, colon is handled by a proctologist. Various diseases and conditions related to rectal, colon and anal areas of the body are treated by these. They are well educated and medical professional that are trained. In some special cases, they work along with the other doctors. Proctologists sometimes work with urologists that are specialists in handling urinary tract and urogenital problems. Sometimes, proctologists work with obstetricians and gynecologists that handle problems related to women’s tissue and female genitalia.
Features of proctologist
Commonly, proctologists treat injuries, tears, severe hemorrhoids, constipation, incontinence and anal cancer. Usually, medical issues like constipation, mild or moderate hemorrhoids can be treated by a general practitioner. In case if the symptoms persist and lasts for several days, then it is better to go to a proctologist.
What to Expect from a proctologist?
The first thing when you visit a proctologist is to describe the symptoms that you are experiencing, symptoms such as blood in the stools, pain in the anal area, rectal bleeding should be described to the proctologist. The diagnosis and the treatment will depend on the information provided by the patient. For screening of the colon, the proctologist may provide a test kit. The test kit is used to provide the stool sample to the proctologist. The stool sample is used to check for any blood traces in the stools. If the diagnosis is confirmed, the proctologist will start the treatment for the existing condition.
A person expected to go to a proctologist may feel reasonless and unwarranted fear. The person may feel inconvenient and might postpone the visit to the proctologist for diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Due to this delay, the condition may move to the chronic stage. The person may experience extreme discomfort and pain.
Firstly, the doctor takes a medical history of the patient by a detailed conversation, only after this, the doctor conducts the actual examination. People older than 40 years can visit a proctologist at least once in every two years. People at a younger age can go in case of any complaints.
The patient is made to lie on his side for the examination. This side position is same for men and women. A special anesthetic gel is applied by the doctor so that the examination can be painless. Some private proctologists use video diagnostics for inspection. This is called video rectoromanoscopy. With this method of inspection, the patient does not experience any pain. And the inspection in a good proctologist center should get completed within half an hour. After the examination, once the disease is defined, the diagnosis and treatment can be conducted by the same proctologist.
Normally, minimally invasive methods are used to treat hemorrhoids. These include
- Infrared photocoagulation
- Latex ligation
- Radio wave method
- Disarterization of the hemorrhoid nodes
Treatment provided by proctologist
- Infrared photocoagulation - In this to reduce hemorrhoid tissue, infrared light is used. This treatment is performed in the proctologist's clinic and the number of sessions will depend on the severity of the condition.
- Procedure for prolapsed and hemorrhoids - In this, the anal canal tissue is repositioned to stop the blood flow to the hemorrhoids, thus causing the hemorrhoids to shrink and disappear due to the lack of blood in a period of 4 - 6 weeks.
If the hemorrhoid is mild or moderate, then it can be treated by your family doctor. First, the doctor will recommend antihemorrhoid medications. If the hemorrhoid does not respond to medications and there is no improvement in the condition, then it can be checked by a proctologist.
A coloproctologist is usually a male doctor, but just to eliminate discomfort for females there are female proctologists too. For the following conditions, they can be consulted;
- Hemorrhoids - They are specialized in this. They can easily diagnose and suggest an effective remedy. Due to a wide array of non-invasive means, it is now possible to diagnose and quickly cure hemorrhoids successfully. Timely proctologic examination is important for successful treatment of hemorrhoids.
- Changes in bowel movement - Blood, mucus and purulence admixtures in evacuations are serious symptoms and should be evaluated by a proctologist. Anal fissures, hemorrhoids, tumor of the rectum could be responsible for blood in the evacuation.
- Pain during bowel movement - If there are other dysfunctions such as constipation, diarrhea and there is pain during bowel movement, then one needs to consult the proctologist. These could be indicative symptoms of some other disease.
All people above the age of 40 are recommended to go for preventive medical check-ups to a proctologist.
Tools used by a proctologist
There are numerous tools used by a proctologist to examine the various parts to do a proper diagnosis.
- Anoscope- It is a plastic or metal tube 4-6 inch. It helps to inspect the inside of the anus. It helps to look for hemorrhoids, anal fissures or rectal polyps.
- Rectoscope- It is a plastic or metal tube that is 8-10 inches. It is similar to anoscope. It is generally used to inspect the lower portion of the sigmoid colon.
- Proctoscope- This is a plastic or metal tube that is 6-8 inches. It is similar to anoscope and helps to inspect the upper portion of the anal canal.
- Sigmoidoscope- It is a light thin flexible short tube. The lower third portion of the colon and rectum can be inspected for polyps or any cancer signs.
- Colonoscope- It is a tube similar to sigmoidoscope, but it is longer and helps to inspect the entire colon. The tissue can be collected for biopsy by attaching extremely smaller tools. It also helps in removing the polyps.
- Fecal occult blood test- It helps to determine whether there is blood in the stool. It makes use of chemicals or antibodies.
Many tools can be used by a proctologist.
Proctologists deal with organs that are involved in removing the body wastes. Fine motor skills, sensitivity and compassion is needed by physicians. Usually, patients who go to proctologists have problems of gender, pain, itching, incontinence. Proctologists are an invaluable bridge between the primary care and colorectal surgery. They can have a private practice and also work in clinics and hospitals. Proctologists not only get to know their patients, but also help them in solving the problem from within. Osteopathic physician is well suited to become a proctologist because of their whole approach to care and also they have a deeper understanding between the structure and function.