A Guide to the Different Protoscope Instrument Uses
Colorectal doctors use proctoscopes to open the anorectal passage so that they can get a good view of what's on the inside. It would be easy to assume that proctoscopes are single-purpose tools, but they're actually versatile instruments that play a role in diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.
The following guide to proctoscope instrument uses outlines the many roles that this tool plays in colorectal medical care.
Identifying Health Problems
Proctoscopies are most often carried out in response to a health concern that a patient is experiencing. The doctor uses the proctoscope to perform an examination that can help lead to a diagnosis.
Finding a Cause for Pain or Discomfort
Abnormalities in the anorectal canal can be quite painful. The discomfort might be especially intense while using the bathroom. When patients report this type of pain, doctors may perform proctoscopies to look for irregularities.
One possible cause of pain is an anal fissure, which is a tear in the tissue near the anus. Although the tear may be quite painful, it could be very small. Careful examination using a proctoscope may help the doctor identify the fissure and provide the patient reassurance that there is an explanation for the pain.
Other causes for pain with defecation may include:
Performing a proctoscopy can be a good starting point for pinpointing the source of the pain.
Looking for the Source of Bleeding
Seeing blood on the toilet paper or in the bowl can be scary. If this happens repeatedly, doctors can perform a proctoscopy to figure out what is going on.
Internal hemorrhoids are a common cause of rectal bleeding. Although these inflamed veins don't usually cause much pain, they can bleed during a visit to the toilet. A doctor can easily spot hemorrhoids during a proctoscopy.
Another potential cause of bleeding is rectal cancer. Therefore, it's important to get bleeding checked out right away. During a proctoscopy, the doctor may identify polyps or tumors. This is a critical step in getting the necessary cancer treatment.
Exploring a Change in Bowel Habits
Proctoscopy may be advisable for patients who are struggling with recurring diarrhea or constipation. This is especially true for people who experience one bout of diarrhea after another.
For example, a rectal exam could reveal that recurrent diarrhea is actually the result of chronic fecal impaction. A proctoscopy could also reveal signs of anorectal inflammation that is contributing to the unusual stool consistency.
This inflammation could be related to a form of colitis. You can learn more about two types of inflammatory conditions, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in the following video:
Keep in mind that an examination with a proctoscope may not provide doctors enough information for a complete diagnosis. However, it can point them in the right direction for further testing.
Carrying Out Procedures
In some cases, concerns identified during a proctoscopy will require the medical team to follow up with an additional procedure, such as a colonoscopy. However, in some cases, the proctoscope can be used as a tool to support the treatment process. The proctoscope holds the rectal tissue open and provides access to the symptomatic areas.
If a proctoscopy reveals precancerous growths, it is important to remove them so that they cannot develop further. The process of removing a polyp is called a polypectomy. After removal, the tissue may need to be biopsied. A proctoscopy might also uncover other types of abnormal tissue that should also be removed and biopsied.
A proctoscope can be useful during the removal process. While the instrument is in place, the doctor can guide forceps or another tool toward the growth in order to snip it off. Some proctoscopes, such as the SapiMed's The Beak, have an opening along the side that makes it easy for doctors to access the rectal tissue.
Although some hemorrhoids will clear up on their own or with the help of lifestyle changes, others require more focused attention. Shrinking or removing the hemorrhoid can provide relief from symptoms and keep it from progressing to a more serious stage.
One hemorrhoid treatment that works especially well in conjunction with a proctoscope is rubber band ligation. While the proctoscope holds the rectum open, the doctor can use a ligator to slip a small rubber band around the tissue. Over the next few weeks, the band will cause the hemorrhoid to wither and fall off.
Following Up Afterward
Treatments and surgeries do not always mark the end of medical care for a condition. Doctors can continue to use proctoscopies for patient care long after completing the main procedure.
Planning the Next Steps
After a serious surgery like a stoma operation, doctors must be vigilant about looking for signs of necrosis or other complications. A proctoscope is useful for examining the rectum and anus for problems of that nature. If a doctor spots signs of a problem, the medical team can discuss what steps must be taken next.
Keeping an Eye Out for Recurrences
Unfortunately, hemorrhoids, polyps and anorectal cancer are not always gone for good. Particularly with cancer scares, doctors usually recommend that patients undergo regular examinations to look for signs of a recurrence. If the symptoms are caught early, the chance of successful treatment usually increases.
The need for regular proctoscopies is especially critical after local excisions of rectal cancer. Many recurrences happen in the two years following surgical removal. For a number of years after treatment, doctors may need to perform proctoscopies every three to six months.
Whether you're a doctor or a patient, knowing the many proctoscope instrument uses will help you gain a better understanding of colorectal care. From diagnosis through treatment and follow-up, using a proctoscope like The Beak or MPR Short can help medical teams provide thorough care for their patients.