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.
Your doctor will review your symptoms and ask about your medical history, including
- current and past medical conditions
- family history of digestive diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- history of radiation therapy for cancer
- history of, or risk factors for, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- history of travel to areas where some infections that cause proctitis are more common
- use of medicines, including antibiotics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
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?
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.
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.
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
- colonoscopy to view the lining of your rectum and your entire colon
- flexible sigmoidoscopy to view the lining of your rectum and lower colon
Doctors may also view the inside of your anus or rectum with a shorter, rigid scope, such as a proctoscope or anoscope.
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. The 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 the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.