Glossary of Terms: A-Z

Abscess: a collection of pus collected in a cavity formed by an infectious process (usually caused by bacteria or parasites) or other foreign materials (e.g. splinters or bullet wounds). Perianal abscesses can be seen in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn's disease) or diabetes. This often presents itself as a tender lump or knot near the anus which grows larger and more painful with the passage of time. It may burst by itself, releasing pus and decreasing the pain dramatically

American College of Surgeons: a scientific and educational association of surgeons in the United States that was founded in 1913 to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient by setting high standards for surgical education and practice. Members of the American College of Surgeons are referred to as Fellows. The letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon's name mean that the surgeon's education and training, professional qualifications, surgical competence, and ethical conduct have passed a rigorous evaluation, and have been found to be consistent with the high standards established and demanded by the College. The College currently has more than 64,000 Fellows, including more than 3,700 Fellows in other countries, making it the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons: a national association of colon and rectal surgeons and other surgeons dedicated to advancing and promoting the science and practice of the treatment of patients with diseases and disorders affecting the colon, rectum and anus.

Anus: the external opening of the rectum. Closure is controlled by sphincter muscles. Feces are expelled from the body through the anus during the act of defecation.

Board Certified: The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a not-for-profit organization comprising 24 medical specialty boards, is the pre-eminent entity overseeing physician certification in the United States. For more than 70 years, ABMS’ mission has been to maintain and improve the quality of medical care by assisting its Member Boards in developing and implementing educational and professional standards to evaluate and certify physician specialists. ABMS is recognized by the key health care accreditation organizations as a primary equivalent source of board certification data on medical specialists for credentialing purposes.

Bowel Incontinence: the inability to control one's bowels. Frequently seen in women that have given birth to many children.
When one feels the urge to have a bowel movement, they may not be able to hold it until they can get to a toilet, or stool may leak from the rectum unexpectedly. People who have fecal incontinence may feel ashamed, embarrassed, or humiliated. Some don't want to leave the house out of fear they might have an accident in public. Most try to hide the problem as long as possible, so they withdraw from friends and family. The social isolation may be reduced because treatment can improve bowel control and make incontinence easier to manage.
In short, you may experience loss of sphincter control.

“when the urge to purge makes you need to speed, 

To Dr. Aquino's office, you must proceed.”

Incontinence can often be treated quite effectively with exercises, biofeedback and sphincter surgery.  We are now treating it very effectively with Sacral Nerve Stimulation using the InterStim implant.

Colon: in addition being a punctuation mark, it is the large intestine between the cecum and the rectum; it extracts moisture from food residues before they are excreted.

Colonics: Colonics or Colonic Hydrotherapy is a technique of washing out the colon with special, high tech enemas.  A great way to prep the bowel prior to colonoscopy, and often used in the treatment of constipation.

Colonoscopy: Examination of the colon with a flexible scope.  Used mainly in screening for colon/rectal cancer. The American Cancer Association recommends a scope at age 50 (45 for Americans of African descent).

Colostomy: a surgical procedure that involves connecting a part of the colon onto the abdominal wall, leaving the patient with an opening on the abdomen called a stoma. This opening is formed from the end of the large intestine drawn out through the incision and sutured to the skin. After a colostomy, feces leave the patient's body through the stoma, and collect in a bag attached to the patient's abdomen which is changed when necessary. Colostomies are viewed negatively due to the misconception that it is difficult to hide the smell of feces and the bag and even keeping it securely attached. However, modern colostomy bags are well-designed and allow stoma patients to continue normal activities.

Condyloma: a very contagious sexually transmitted disease. Caused by some variants of the Human Papilloma Virus, typically HPV 6 and HPV 11, it is spread during oral, genital, or anal sex with an infected partner. About two-thirds of people who have a single sexual contact with a partner with genital warts will develop warts, usually within three months of contact. In women the warts occur on the outside and inside of the vagina, on the opening (cervix) to the womb (uterus), or around the anus. While genital warts are approximately as prevalent in men, the symptoms of the disease may be less obvious. When present, they usually are seen on the tip of the penis. They also may be found on the shaft of the penis, on the scrotum, or around the anus. Rarely, genital warts also can develop in the mouth or throat of a person who has had oral sex with an infected person. Certain strains of warts if untreated may progress to a form of skin cancer.

Constipation: a condition of the digestive system where a person experiences hard feces that is difficult to eliminate; it may be extremely painful, and in extreme cases (fecal impaction) lead to symptoms of bowel obstruction. Causes may be dietary, hormonal and anatomical. Treatment is with a change in dietary habits, laxatives, fiber therapy, enemas, and rarely surgery.

Crohn’s Disease: no, not necessarily a condition affecting cosmetically challenged elderly women. Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the digestive tract and it can involve any part of it, from the mouth to the anus. It typically affects the area where the small intestine joins the colon, as well as segments of large bowel, with other areas of the bowel being relatively unaffected. It is often associated with auto-immune disorders outside the bowel, such as aphthous stomatitis (mouth ulcers) and rheumatoid arthritis.

Diarrhea: a condition in which the sufferer has frequent and watery, or loose bowel movements. A vengeful Mexican monarch (Montezuma) is often blamed for it's misery.

Diverticular Disease/Diverticulosis: the condition of having diverticula in the colon which are out-pocketings of the colonic mucosa and submucosa through weaknesses of muscle layers in the colon wall. These are more common in the sigmoid colon, which is a common place for increased pressure. This is uncommon before the age of 40 and increases in incidence after that age.

Enema: not a friend (JK). Well actually, the administration of a medicine into the rectum through the anus. Medications can include laxatives, soothing drugs such as cortisone and other anti-inflammatory drugs.

Fissure: a tear in the anus, usually very painful (think passing broken shards of glass). Fortunately, the treatment is very effective and relatively painless.  In selected cases, an injection of Botox will result in a cure.

Fistula: a channel/tube connecting the rectum to the skin around the anus resulting in abnormal discharge of feces through the opening by the anus. This usually follows a perianal abscess.

Hemorrhoids: Livid and painful swellings formed by the dilation of the blood vessels around the margin of, or within, the anus, from which blood or mucus is occasionally discharged. Also called Piles.  

"When the urge to purge makes you swell and bleed,

To Dr. Aquino's office should you proceed."

Can be a Biblical punishment for serious transgressions (aka sins). 

(Deuteronomy 28:27; 1 Samuel 5:6-7; 1 Samuel 5:12; 1 Samuel 6:4-5). 

My patients are generally non-sinners.

Hernia: A hernia occurs when the contents of a body cavity bulge out of the area where they are normally contained. Usually seen in the groin and umbilicus, but can often follow a weak incision. Repair usually involves use of a synthetic or collagen mesh.

Herpes: Caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is manifested in the anal area as painful, watery blisters/ulcers that may be recurrent. This is a contagious condition, especially during an outbreak. Treatment is with an antiviral drug, strong pain medication and warm (Sitz) baths.

Ileostomy: see colostomy. Ileostomies are necessary where disease or injury has rendered the large intestine incapable of safely processing intestinal waste, typically because the colon has been wholly removed

Incontinence: the inability to control defecation.

"When the urge to purge makes you need to speed,
To Dr. Aquino's office should you proceed."

(Eat your heart out Johnny Cochran)

See Bowel Incontinence

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: a group of disorders that cause the intestines to become inflamed (red and swollen). The inflammation lasts a long time and usually comes back over and over again. Examples are Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Treatment is usually with medications but when this fails, surgery is needed

Intestinal Fistula: an abnormal tube like connection between the intestine and the skin surface, or another organ such as the bladder or vagina.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a condition affecting bowel activity resulting in cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea alternating with constipation. Also called spastic colon.

Perianal abscess: Perianal abscesses can be seen in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn's disease) or diabetes. Often the abscess will start as an internal wound caused by infection of glands that are just inside the anus. This often shows itself as a lump of tissue near the anus which grows larger and more painful with the passage of time. A surgical drainage will often resolve the problem

Perineum: the area of between the anus and the genitals.

Piles: see Hemorrhoids

Pilonidal cysts and sinuses: an infection in the skin around the tail bone or coccyx. Probably caused by ingrowing hair.

Polyps: Mushroom like growths on the colon and rectum that are frequently premalignant. They are found by colonoscopy and if not removed may go on to form a cancer.

Proctology: The knowledge of diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the anus and rectum.

Prolapse: An abnormal protrusion of the intestine, frequently the rectum, uterus or bladder.

Rectal Prolapse: see Prolapse.

Rectocele: Bulging of the rectum into the back wall of the vagina. When this is large, stool will pocket in it, resulting in incomplete bowel movements.

Rectum: The lowest part of the large bowel, lying above the anus.  (sometimes misspelled 'Wrecked-Em')

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons: Founded in 1599, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, UK enjoys a history spanning four centuries. Physicians certified by this institution as Fellows (FRCS), have completed a rigorous hospital residency training and have passed a series of demanding written, clinical and oral examinations.

SemiColon ; What is left after half the colon is surgically removed; also a punctuation mark.

Ulcerative Colitis: an inflammatory disease of the bowel that usually affects the lower end of the large intestine and rectum. It has no known cause, although there is a genetic component to susceptibility.

Warts: see Condyloma

Z: The 26th and last letter of the English alphabet. We say ZEE, they say ZED, 'nuff said... 

Marcus M. Aquino, MD Marcus M. Aquino, MD Surgeon

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