Do I need a Colorectal Surgeon or a Gastroenterologist?

What is the difference between a colorectal surgeon and a gastroenterologist? This is a very common question that we receive and often patients are unsure of which field is appropriate for their needs. Although these fields overlap in some areas, the specialties are actually very different in the conditions they treat and their method of training. In order to address this issue, we have added some useful information to decide which type of physician treats your condition.

A Colorectal Surgeon, formerly known as a proctologist, is a general surgeon who has undergone further training in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the colon, rectum and anus. Colon and rectal surgeons are experts in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of colon and rectal problems. Colon and rectal surgeons treat benign and malignant conditions, perform routine colon screening examinations and surgically treat problems when necessary.

A colorectal surgeon will evaluate, diagnose and treat the following symptoms and conditions:

Anal Abscess/Fistula Anal Cancer Anal Fissure
Anal Pain Anal Warts Bowel Incontinence
Colorectal Cancer Constipation Crohn’s Disease
Diverticular Disease Hemorrhoids Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Pilonidal Disease Pruritus Ani
Rectal Prolapse Rectocele Ulcerative Colitis

A gastroenterologist is a doctor who has completed initial training in internal medicine and further training in gastroenterology. Gastroenterologists do not operate on patients. A gastroenterologist specializes in diseases of the digestive system (gastrointestinal (GI) tract). Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat many conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), and biliary system (e.g., liver, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts).