While you most likely have heard of heart surgeons and plastic surgeons, it is possible that you have never heard of a colorectal surgeon. So, the question is, what does this type of surgeon do and what areas of the body do they study?

Colorectal surgeons are also known asrectal and colon surgeons. They specialize in diseases that attack the lower digestive track. This includes the large intestine and the colon.

Beyond medical school, this type of surgeon goes through extensive training and advanced education. In fact, they go through about fourteen years of training in all. This includes four years of medical school, a residency program for general surgery which is between five and six years long, and then another one to two years of training for rectal and colon surgery. Once board certified, they will specialize in the care and treatment of patients with colorectal disorders. This includes all operative, preoperative and postoperative care.

Types of Conditions Treated by a Colorectal Surgeon

There are several types of diseases and conditions that a colon surgeon deals with. These include the following:

  • Cancer of the colon, rectum, and anus
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Anal abscess
  • Colorectal polyps
  • Diverticulitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

What to Expect when You Visit a Surgeon

Before a decision is made to perform surgery, you will undergo a number of tests to help diagnose and screen for specific conditions. These tests range from a colonoscopy to ultrasound, and flexible sigmoidoscopy.

colorectal surgeon

After the initial screening, the surgeon will decide which procedure is best for you. This can include a colon resection, an open and laparoscopic colorectal surgery, or a colostomy.

The Difference Between a Colon Surgeon and a Gastroenterologist

Often times, a patient will think they need to see a gastroenterologist when they actually need to see a colon surgeon. A gastroenterologist studies and treats the digestive tract which includes the stomach, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, and colon, while a colon surgeon treats the colon, rectum, and anus.

There is some overlap, but the differences are important to understand as well. Colon surgeons can do all the same things as gastroenterologists, but they also perform surgery where a gastroenterologist does not. If a gastroenterologist determines you need surgery they will have to refer you to a colon surgeon.

It is important to understand that if you are referred to a colon surgeon it does not mean that you will have to have surgery. Oftentimes, the surgeon is there to provide you with additional treatment options and to determine whether or not surgery is right for your specific situation. Either way, with the training and education a colon surgeon has, you will be in good hands throughout your medical journey.