If you are experiencing problems with your gastrointestinal tract (which you may know more simply as the digestive system), then it may be advisable for you to see a specialist doctor.  However, Los Angeles has a wide variety of specialists, with expertise in numerous different areas, and it can therefore be difficult to identify exactly what you need, especially if your medical knowledge is limited.

What is a Proctologist?
If you are looking for a proctologist in Los Angeles, then you will need to be aware that they are now more likely to be referred to as colorectal surgeons.  This is because the modern term more accurately reflects the work that is done within this area of medicine.  A colorectal surgeon specialises the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the bowel, which consists of the colon (sometimes referred to as the large intestine), the rectum and anus, in addition to the pelvic floor.  Some of the conditions that will be seen are easily treatable (polyps, for example, can be removed quickly and easily during a colonoscopy procedure), while others are chronic and require the long term management of symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, being an excellent example of this).  Colorectal surgeons are able to carry out a wide range of screening and surgical procedures.

What is a Gastroenterologist?
A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and management of conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract.  This can involve any part of the system, from the mouth to the anus.  Many of the conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract are chronic, which means that they are long term and will most likely be present for the entire duration of the patient’s lifetime.  This means that treatment of these conditions (such as Crohn’s disease) largely consists of managing the symptoms in such a way as to reduce the impact on the patient’s day to day life.  Regular check-ups will be required to ensure that the lifestyle advice given is not only being followed, but is also resulting in the best possible outcome.

Though gastroenterologists look at the entire digestive system, they are generally unable to carry out surgical or screening procedures, and if these are required, you may need to be referred to another doctor.  Colon and rectal surgeons are able to both diagnose and treat colonic conditions, and use surgical techniques in the treatment of many conditions  if necessary.  Gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons have the same training when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of most intestinal conditions.

How Do I Know Which to Choose?
Choosing the right type of specialist for you can be extremely difficult.  You might need to ask your doctor for advice on which to choose, or you may prefer to think about which parts of the body are being affected by your symptoms.  They will also be able to give you a list of specialists within the Los Angeles area, which may help you to choose.  However, symptoms such as abdominal pain and nausea are common to many gastrointestinal disorders, and may not be of much use to you when deciding whether you would prefer to see a gastroenterologist or a proctologist.

If your symptoms are general and could be caused by problems in any part of the gastrointestinal system, then it would be best for you to see a gastroenterologist, at least initially.  As they have studied the entire digestive system, they will be able to narrow down the area that is responsible for your symptoms, and should also be able to give you a diagnosis, after the appropriate clinical investigations have been carried out.  Once you have a diagnosis, you will then know whether seeing a gastroenterologist is the best course of action, or whether you should be seeing a colorectal surgeon instead.  Your doctor and specialist will discuss this with you, and will be able to advise you on the best course of action when it comes to obtaining further treatment in the Los Angeles area.

When Do I Need to See a Proctologist or Gastroenterologist?

Once you have made your decision about whether you should be seeing a proctologist or a gastroenterologist, you will need to choose one of the many specialists that can be found in Los Angeles.  You may want to look at the websites of these specialists and read some patient reviews on one of the dedicated review websites before you make your decision.  After this, all that you need to do is call and book your consultation.

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    Physicians specializing in proctology are called colorectal surgeons or proctologists. In the United States, to become colorectal surgeons, these surgical doctors have to complete a general surgery residency, as well as a colorectal surgery fellowship, upon which they are eligible to be certified in their field of expertise by the ABCRS or AOBP.


    May 2013
    April 2013