The Difference Between a Gastroenterologist and a Colorectal Surgeon

What is the distinction between a gastroenterologist and a colorectal surgeon? This is a frequently asked question, and many patients are unsure which field is best suited to their needs. Although these specialties overlap in some ways, they are very different in terms of the conditions they treat and the way they are trained. To address this issue, we have added some helpful information to help you decide which type of physician will treat your condition.

A Colorectal Surgeon, also known as a Proctologist, is a general surgeon who has received additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus. Colon and rectal surgeons specialize in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of colon and rectal issues. Colon and rectal surgeons diagnose and treat benign and malignant conditions, perform routine colon screening exams, and treat problems surgically when necessary.

The following symptoms and conditions will be evaluated, diagnosed, and treated by a colorectal surgeon:

  • 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 received initial training in internal medicine as well as additional training in gastroenterology. Gastroenterologists do not perform surgery on patients. A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases (gastrointestinal (GI) tract). Many conditions affecting the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), and biliary system are diagnosed and treated by gastroenterologists (e.g., liver, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts).