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Glossary of Terms

Anal abscess: is an infected cavity filled with pus found near the anus or rectum.

Anal canal: is a short tube at the end of your rectum through which stool leaves your body

Anal cancer: is a cancer that develops from the lining ‘mucosa’ of the anal canal

Anal fissure: is a split which occurs within the distal part of anal lining. This usually causes severe anal pain and fresh bleeding on passing stools

Anal fistula: is when a small tunnel like structure (tract) that develops between the back passage (anal canal) and the skin surrounding the anus

Anal sphincters: are the ring of muscle surrounding the anus which controls opening and closing of the anus and play a major part in maintaining control of faeces

Anterior resection and total mesorectal resection (TME): is the surgical removal of the rectum and the entire fatty tissue around the rectum (TME) to reduce the risk of recurrent local cancer, with a join made between the two ends of the bowel. This type of surgery is usually carried out for cancers of the rectum

Anorectal physiology: are tests that look at the strength of the muscles in your anal canal to see if they are working normally, and also checks the sensitivity of the rectum to small volumes of air and its response to distension

Anus: is the back passage. It is lined with sensitive skin and surrounded by important muscles which control bowel emptying

Banding of haemorrhoids: involves using a small instrument to put a very tight elastic band over the haemorrhoid. This band cuts off the blood supply so that the haemorrhoid should drop off, usually within 3-7 days after the banding

Bowel: is the name given to describe the intestines. The term large bowel is sometimes used to describe the colon and rectum. The term small bowel is often used to describe the upper part of the intestine, which includes the duodenum, jejunum and ileum

Colectomy: is the surgical removal of all or part of the large intestine

Colitis: inflammation of the colon which may have several different causes

Colon: the colon is part of the intestine or bowel that follows the small intestine. The colon leads to the rectum and anus. The function of the colon is to absorb water

Colonoscopy: is an examination of the entire length of the large bowel using a flexible fibreoptic telescope

Colon cancer: is a cancer which develops from the ‘mucosal’ lining of the large bowel (colon). This type of cancer usually develops from a non-cancerous polyp which if detected early may be removed to prevent cancer developing

Constipation: is a feeling that you are not passing stools (faeces) as often as you normally do, or that you have to strain more than usual, or that you are unable to completely empty your bowels or that your stools are unusually hard

Crohn's disease: is a condition that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (gut). The disease may affect any part of the gut

Diverticular disease: are small pouches sticking out of the side of the large intestine (colon)

Endorectal ultrasound: is a procedure where a probe is inserted into the rectum and high frequency sound waves (ultrasound waves) are generated. The pattern of echoes as they bounce off tissues is converted into a picture (sonogram) on a television screen

Enhanced recovery program for elective surgery: are recovery programs designed to reduce hospital length of stay by shortening the postoperative recovery period

Faecal incontinence: is defined as an inability to control the passage of gas, liquid or solid stools from the back passage which is associated with urgency to rush to a toilet and at times accidents

Gall bladder disease: the most common reason for gallbladder disease is gallstones. This is a common condition with a wide variety of symptoms from discomfort to severe pain which mainly begins after food. In severe cases the patient can suffer from jaundice, nausea and fever. The most common reason for gallbladder disease is gallstones

Haemorrhoids (Piles): are swellings of the blood vessels within the anus. They are very common. The common symptoms are bright red bleeding, pain, itching, swelling and popping out (prolapse) whilst passing a stool or at other times

Hemicolectomy: is the removal of part of the colon (large bowel or intestine) either the right or the left side

Hernia: is when a piece of tissue, or organ which pokes through the muscles which make up the wall of the abdomen, and pushes out under the skin. This appears as a bulge in the abdomen or groin

Inflammatory bowel disease: is the name of a group of disorders that cause the intestines to become inflamed (red and swollen)

Local anaesthetic: is used to temporarily reduce or take away painful sensation so that otherwise painful procedures or surgery can be performed

Perianal abscess: is an acute painful swelling containing pus which is next to the anus

Piles (Haemorrhoids): are swellings of the blood vessels within the anus. They are very common. The common symptoms are bright red bleeding, pain, itching, swelling and popping out (prolapse) whilst passing a stool or at other times

Pilonidal disease: is a chronic infection of the skin in the region of the buttock crease. The condition results from a reaction to hairs embedded in the skin, commonly occurring in the cleft between the buttock

Polyp: is a benign (non-cancerous) growth in the lining of the bowel

Proctectomy: is the surgical removal of the rectum. Where there is a very low rectal or anal cancer this may involve removal of the anus as well

Proctoscopy: is an examination of the lowest part of the rectum and anal canal using a very short telescope. This is usually done in the outpatient clinic

Pruritus ani: is a common symptom which describes itching and or soreness around the anus. It may be due to a number of different causes

Rectum: is the last part of the large intestine. The main function of the rectum is to act as a reservoir for stools

Rectal cancer: is a cancer that develops from the lining ‘mucosa’ of the rectum

Rectal prolapse: occurs when part or all of the wall of the rectum slides out of place, sometimes sticking out of the anus

Restorative proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch anastomosis: is the surgical removal of all of the colon, rectum and anus and formation of a new reservoir with the small bowel which is reattached to the anus

Rigid sigmoidoscopy: is a procedure by which a doctor inserts either a short and rigid tube into the rectum to examine the lower portion of the large intestine (or bowel)

Ulcerative colitis: is a condition which causes inflammation in the rectum and colon. Part or the entire large bowel may be involved

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