The surgical treatment of diseases of the colon, rectum and small bowel is performed under the care of the general surgeon who has a specialist interest in colorectal surgery. The conditions treated are many and varied; they often require the assistance of other surgeons (gynaecologists and urologists), physicians (gastroenterologists) and specialist nurses (stomatherapy, cancer care and inflammatory bowel disease).
Not all patients seen by a colorectal surgeon will necessarily need an operation. Often they are the first doctor a patient with abdominal symptoms may see; a large part of their job is the initial investigation and drug treatment of many conditions.
Broadly speaking these are divided into anal and bowel (rectum, colon and small bowel) complaints although often they may coexist. For this reason Colorectal surgeons frequently advise and perform endoscopic evaluation of the upper and lower bowel.
Common Presenting Complaints
- Rectal bleeding, either bright red or darker in colour
- Change in bowel habit towards constipation or diarrhoea
- Abdominal or rectal pain
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite