Glossary

Anaemia

A decrease in the number of red blood cells, or less than the normal amount of haemoglobin in the blood.

Anal abscess

An acute painful swelling, containing pus, next to the anus. It is caused by an infection in a gland close to the anus. The usual treatment is drainage to let out the pus. To find out more about this condition click here.

Anal cancer

A cancer that develops in the lining or skin of the anus itself. It is a different type of cancer from bowel cancer. The commonest treatment is a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some people may require surgery. To find out more about anal cancer click here.

Anal fissure

A split in anal lining which usually causes pain on passing stools and sometimes bleeding. Most are treated with simple creams a few require surgery. To find out more about this condition click here.

Anal fistula

an abnormal connection between the lining on the anal canal (back passage) and the skin near the anus. Most will require surgery. To find out more about this condition click here.

Anal incontinence

This is defined as an inability to control the passage of gas, liquid or solid stools from the back passage. The definition should also include the need to rush to a toilet to prevent having an accident (urgency). To find out more about anal incontinence click here.

Anal sphincter

The ring of muscle surrounding the anus which controls opening and closing of the anus

Anterior resection

Surgical removal of all or part of the rectum, with a join made between the two ends of the bowel. This is most usually carried out for cancers in the rectum.

Anus

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

Appendix

A small tube of bowel which is part of the large intestine. This is found in the right lower abdomen.

Barium Enema

An X-ray examination to image the whole of the large bowel. The bowel needs to be cleared with strong laxatives. Barium liquid (white) and a little air are introduced via a small tube and a series of X-rays are taken.

Biopsy

This is a small tissue sample which is obtained during an operation or other examination of the bowel. A pathologist looks at the biopsy tissue under a microscope to make a diagnosis.

Bowel

A 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.

Caecum

The first part of the large intestine. This is found in the right lower abdomen. The appendix is attached to the base of the caecum.

Capsule endoscopy

A camera in a capsule swallowed by the patient investigate conditions in the small bowel.

Colectomy

Surgical removal of the colon. This may be all or part of the large intestine, see Hemicolectomy.

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

An examination of the whole of the large bowel using a flexible telescope. The bowel needs to be cleared with strong laxative. Most people have sedation for the procedure. Biopsies (tissue samples) can be taken and polyps can be removed.

Colorectal cancer

A cancer which develops in the lining of the large bowel, colon & rectum. This type of cancer usually develops in a polyp. If caught early many cancers are completely curable.

Colostomy

A surgical procedure to create an opening in the colon which is fixed to the skin.

Constipation

A term that means different things to different people but is usually taken to mean a decrease in bowel frequency or the passage of harder stools.

Crohn’s disease

A type of inflammatory bowel disease which can affect both the small and large intestine.

CT Scan

Computed Tomography (CT Scan) is simply another x-ray technique using a scanner that takes a series of pictures across the body allowing the radiologist to view the images in two or three dimensions. Spiral or multi-slice CT is the most modern form of this imaging with the pictures being produced in only a few seconds.

Diarrhoea

A term that means different things to different people but is usually taken to mean a change in the bowel habit to become more loose or watery and/or an increase in bowel frequency.

Diverticular Disease

A common condition where pouches develop in the lining of the colon. Only a few people require surgery

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

An examination of the lower (left part) of the colon using a flexible telescope, an enema is usually given to clear out the lower part of the bowel beforehand.

Fluoroscopy (Screening)

This special machine produces a constant stream of X-rays so that it works in real time, enabling the doctor to view a changing image continuously. A digital unit produces an image where the picture elements (pixels) have a numerical value and this technology normally delivers a lower dose of radiation than the previous analogue system whilst providing high definition, high resolution images. It is used in barium examinations of the bowel.

Haemorrhoids

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.

HALO procedure (Haemorrhoidal Artery Ligation Operation)

minimally invasive procedure to treat haemorrhoids.

Hartmann’s Procedure

An operation where part of the left colon or rectum is removed and a colostomy created. This is usually done because it is not possible or safe to join the bowel at the same time as a section of bowel is removed.

Hemicolectomy

Removal of part of the colon (large bowel or intestine) either the right or the left side.

Ileostomy

A surgical procedure to create an opening in the ileum (last part of small intestine) which is fixed to the skin usually with a small spout.

Infective colitis

A type of inflammation of the colon that is caused by a bacteria or a virus.

Interventional Radiology

This encompasses any procedure that is invasive, usually involving the insertion of a needle, cannula (tube), catheter, or wire into the patient for diagnosis and /or treatment.

Key Hole Surgery

Also known as Laparoscopic Surgery, this is a surgical technique involving very small incisions in the abdomen through which the surgeon passes a camera and operating instruments.

KRAS

It can be beneficial for the team treating a bowel cancer to know what gene is responsible for the progression and development of the cancer. The KRAS gene status of a cancer can indicate a prognosis and help the pathologist and oncology specialist predict a response to certain drugs.

Laparoscopic Surgery

Also known as Key Hole Surgery, this is a surgical technique involving very small incisions in the abdomen through which the surgeon passes a camera and operating instruments.

Loop colostomy

A type of colostomy, usually temporary, when the surgeon attaches both ends of the colon to the skin. A colostomy bag is worn in exactly the same way.

Loop ileostomy

A type of ileostomy, usually temporary, when the surgeon attaches both ends of the ileum to this skin, again with a small spout. This makes it easier to be reversed in the future.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

This test uses magnetism and radio waves to build up a series of cross sectional images which can be viewed in many different planes. The examination does not involve X-rays and the magnetic fields used are not known to be harmful. However, it takes longer to obtain the pictures than a conventional x-ray machine. The machine requires you to lie down in a “tunnel”, some people find this examination claustrophobic.

Mucus

A natural lubricant produced by the bowel. It can be produced in excess in some conditions such as colitis.

Nuclear Medicine or Isotope Scanning

Radioisotopes give out a very small amount of radiation that can be detected by a specially designed sensitive type of camera. When a radioisotope is linked with certain chemicals it can, harmlessly, trace the workings of the human body. These tests allow radiologists to find alterations in the normal functioning of the body organs. The dose of radiation given is very small, but following some tests we do advise that contact with children or breastfeeding mothers should be avoided for a short time.

PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography)

A PET scan is a diagnostic imaging technique in which patients are given a special radioactive substance that emits positrons, these in turn give rise to gamma rays, which are detected by a gamma camera. More recently PET scans are linked with CT scan images obtained at the same time to improve the accuracy of the examination.

Polyp

A benign (non-cancerous) growth in the lining of the bowel. There are several different types. Some types can grow and eventually form cancers although most do not.

Proctectomy

Surgical removal of the rectum, this may or may not also involve removal of the anus as well.

Proctitis

Inflammation of the rectum which may have several causes.

Proctocolectomy

Surgical removal of all of the colon, rectum and anus. This is most commonly performed in patients with a disease that affects the whole of the colon and rectum.

Proctoscopy

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

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

Rectum

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

Reversal of Hartmann’s Procedure

This is an operation to rejoin two ends of the bowel and close the colostomy (see Hartmann’s Procedure).

Rigid Sigmoidoscopy

An examination of the rectum and anal canal using a very short telescope, it involves puffing in a small amount of air. This is usually done in the outpatient clinic.

Sacral Neurostimulation (SNS)

A technique involving implantation of a nerve stimulating device to help improve symptoms of faecal incontinence.

Small intestine

The part of the bowel that comprises the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. The function of the small intestine is to digest food and absorb nutrients including mineral and vitamins

Terminal ileum

The last part of the small intestine or small bowel as it joins the large bowel at the caecum.

Ulcerative colitis

A condition which causes inflammation in the rectum and colon. Part or all of the large bowel may be involved.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound consists of high frequency sound waves, too high for the human ear to detect. These waves are produced by the ultrasound probe and travel harmlessly through the body bouncing off various layers of tissue. The probe then hears these echoes which are relayed onto a screen allowing the pictures to be interpreted.

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Getting used to having a stoma bag is quite a big thing and, in this, as in everything else, the Priory was magnificent. ”
Mr Bruce Sutherland CBE. June 2011