There are a number of colorectal diseases and disorders and to understand those more fully perhaps a quick anatomy of the area will help. The large bowel consists of the colon and the rectum. The anus is located at the end of the rectum and is where stool emerges. Just up from the large bowel is the small bowel. The colon is responsible for processing liquid stool into solid stool ready for evacuation. The rectum is responsible for coordinating the actual release of the solid stool. There is much variation in the frequency of this process from person to person and can very from a bowel movement 3 times a day to 2 times per week.
Functional disorders of the bowel most often impact the colon and rectum. While with a functional disorder, the bowel may look normal, its functionality is restricted in some way. The cause of a functional disorder is often unknown and common conditions include constipation or irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS or spastic colon.
Structural disorders occur when the colon does not function properly and also there is a visible abnormality. Often the abnormality requires surgical removal, repair or alteration. Common structural disorders include:
- Hemorrhoids can be internal or external in nature and can be very painful. The first line of defense for hemorrhoids is often change of eating and bowel habits, medicinal therapy or in office treatments with surgical removal only as a last result for severe hemorrhoids.
- Anal Fissure. A fissure is a split or tear in the lining of the anus which can cause intense burning or pain and occasional bleeding. Anal fissures generally heal on their own yet sometimes require topical medication and the most severe cases, surgical repair.
- Perianal Abscess or Infection. Tiny glands found in the anal region can become blocked and infected. When a buildup occurs an abscess is formed and may require drainage or surgical treatment.
- When the bowel wall is weakened, often due to a low-fiber diet, the bowel lining may become obstructed through these small weak pockets, which is known as colonic diverticula. Diverticulitis is a complication of diverticula when one of the sacs becomes blocked or infected. Surgical treatment is needed in about half of all cases of diverticulitis.
- A small mushroom like growth in the lining of the large bowel is referred to as a polyp. Not all polyps are cancerous but all polyps should be removed before having the opportunity to grow and cause any complications within the large bowel.
- Colon/Rectal Cancer. When cells within the lining of the colon begin to grow and multiply abnormally, cancer is present. Colon cancer initiates within a polyp and surgery is required to remove the abnormal cells. If necessary, the surgery may be followed by chemotherapy. The patient will work with his or her oncologist to determine if further treatment is recommended.
- Inflammation of the bowel is known as colitis and there are a number of different forms of colitis. Symptoms of colitis can include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, cramping, and bowel urgency.
Many colorectal diseases can be prevented or easily treated with early detection and prompt care. Talk openly with your physician about symptoms and your family history. If you have a personal history of polyps or a family link to colon cancer, be sure to stay on track with routine colonoscopy exams and be mindful of any significant changes in your overall health. Regardless of personal or family history, if you experience any changes in bowel movements, sudden change in weight or abdominal cramping, take action sooner than later to discuss these changes with your physician.
At Premier Surgical Associates we perform a number of surgical procedures to treat colorectal disorders. Our surgeons are certified by the American Board of Surgery and have specialized knowledge and skills relating to the diagnosis, pre-operative, operative and post-operative management of surgical problems related to colorectal disease. We invite you to learn more about Premier Surgical Associates on our website.