Diagnosis of Proctitis

How do doctors diagnose proctitis?

Doctors will ask about your medical history, perform a physical exam, and order tests to diagnose proctitis and find the cause.

Medical history

Your doctor will review your symptoms and ask about your medical history, including

Patient talking with a doctor in a doctor’s office.Your doctor will review your symptoms and ask you about your medical history.

Physical exam

Your doctor will perform a physical exam, which may include a digital rectal exam, to check for signs of proctitis or other problems in the rectum.

What tests do doctors use to diagnose proctitis?

Blood tests

A health care professional will take a blood sample from you and send it to a lab. Blood tests can show signs of infections or other conditions that may cause proctitis.

Stool tests

A doctor will give you a container for catching and storing stool. You will receive instructions on where to send or take the container for analysis. Stool tests may show signs of infections that can cause proctitis.

Rectal cultures

A doctor will use a cotton swab to collect a sample of the bacteria and other microbes inside your rectum. A rectal culture can show signs of infections that cause proctitis.


A doctor uses an endoscope—a long, flexible, narrow tube with a light and tiny camera on one end—to view the lining of your anus, rectum, and colon. The doctor may pass a tool through the endoscope to take biopsies of the lining of your rectum and colon. A pathologist will examine the biopsied tissue under a microscope.

Common endoscopy procedures that doctors can use to diagnose, find the cause, and check for complications of proctitis include

Doctors may also view the inside of your anus or rectum with a shorter, rigid scope, such as a proctoscope or anoscope.

Patient lying on her side while health care professionals perform an endoscopy test.Doctors may use endoscopy tests to diagnose proctitis.
Last Reviewed December 2021
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.