A colorectal surgeon, also known as a proctologist, is a surgeon that specializes in the field of colorectal surgery, that is, surgery that focuses on the anus, rectum, and colon.
While it may sound “unglamorous” and even “disgusting”, make no mistake. Colorectal surgeons are also incredibly important, along with the body region that they study and perform surgeries on. As all parts of the body are important in their own ways, it’s also important to learn to appreciate the work colorectal surgeons do.
For starters, colorectal surgeons primarily focus on complications with the anus and/or rectum, such as blockages, hemorrhoids, and fistulas. If you are a person who has firsthand experience with these complications, you’d realize how invaluable colorectal surgeons are, and the work they do. To become one, aspiring colorectal surgeons undergo general residency and fellowship, until they are certified by the Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery. No matter what field it may be, the field of medicine always has the strictest standards.
For those who don’t know however, think of it this way; what is one of the most common things that we as humans do? What is one of the most unavoidable bodily functions what we have to undertake? Of course, it’s our bowel movements in the bathroom. And if you think about it, despite its “gross” nature, we may subconsciously think of it as a relaxing activity, bringing relief to our nether regions after waking up, and after a long day.
Now, try to imagine that area of your body, which is primarily responsible for those bowel movements, getting some kind of painful complication. This would incredibly uncomfortable for anyone unfortunate enough to experience this, and the services of colorectal surgeons are sorely needed. The more you think about it, pain while making bowel movements would be a huge blow to anyone’s quality of life. An act that has been associated with relaxation and relief has turned into one of agony.
And the physical agony would just be the start. If you think that the sheer pain and inconvenience is bad enough, the long-term effects are even worse. With the pain that comes with your bowel movements while you’re under a rectal-related complication, comes hesitation to actually undergo your bowel movements in the first place. Human nature dictates that we avoid pain as much as possible, and thus in the cases of sufferers of rectal diseases, they would inevitably end up avoiding going to the toilet altogether just to avoid the pain. This of course would introduce further complications, like blood poisoning, due to the body not ejecting its waste products.
Indeed, even an organ as lowly as a person’s colon, rectum, and anus has their incredibly important functions, and if their functions are hindered, the overall health of the rest of the body would be hindered.
The fascinating thing about the colon, rectum, and anus, is that they are relatively simple organs. There are no complex functions or moving parts in their anatomy, as they are simply pure muscle that flexes in order to squeeze out whatever waste products our bodies need to expel. However, this also means that if there are complications within these areas, surgery is almost certainly a necessity.
Unlike other organs that can rely on medications in order to keep maintenance and equilibrium in their functionality, the rectal area is one big tunnel of solid muscle that the worst that can happen are growths (hemorrhoids or tumors) and/or wrong openings (fistulas). These are, in and of themselves, profound abnormalities that require surgery, no matter which way you try to spin it.
In fact, this has been in practice since as early as the ancient times. Ancient Mayan carvings have depicted anal surgeries that may have been fistula corrections. Ancient tapestries in Medieval Europe have depicted hemorrhoid removals, and even the French King Louis IV had an infamous fistula correction surgery that, given the tools that were used, must have been a highly unpleasant experience.
The point is, rectal complications have existed since as early as recorded history, and even during those times, ancient doctors have found medicinal herbs and foods to help with complications with any other disease and symptom. However, anal surgeries have been inevitable since then, and no amount of healthy eating would fix it until you bite the bullet and get the surgery.
Another thing to note is that in these ancient depictions, all of the depictions of the patients have shown them to be in immense agony, with their faces being drawn to be contorted and in pain, almost in a comical manner. Thankfully however, modern medicine has mostly circumvented these challenges, and colorectal surgeons usually heavily anesthetize their patients before the procedure.
Today, anal surgeons fix a wide variety of anal-related problems, and what’s remarkable is how common these diseases are. Most likely, you have heard of a relative, a friend, or a coworker, who has needed to see a colorectal surgeon, which is a true testament to the perfection and mastery the medical field has achieved. Logically speaking, since anal problems more often than not lead to surgery, and the sheer commonality of them, it should go without saying that colorectal surgeons are among the most practiced, and therefore safest, surgeons in the world.
Perhaps one of the most important work that colorectal surgeons do however, is definitely the surgical treatments against colon cancer. Colon cancer is one of the most common, and most dangerous forms of cancer in the world. This is not only because the tumors cause pain when making bowel movements, but since the colon is located so closely to other vital organs such as the intestines and stomach, and in the case of men, the prostate and testicles, and for women, the womb and cervix, the real killer in colon cancer is the fact that it is prone to spreading to these more vital areas.
So, the next time you experience pain down there, do not hesitate to go to your local friendly colorectal surgeon. Forget your preconceived notions of it being “gross” or even “humiliating”, but instead realize that their training is among the best in the world, and that their science has been perfected to the point that the whole procedure will be painless.