Your Ulcerative Colitis Care Team
Internal Medicine Physician
An internist, or internal medicine doctor, is often the gatekeeper to a multidisciplinary care team. A family medicine physician or primary care physician could also fill this role. In some cases, this doctor is the first stop when a new symptom crops up, especially if it does not seem to be related to ulcerative colitis (UC) or might require a referral to a specialist. Often this doctor coordinates care with specialists and shares information about a patient’s care. It is important to have a good working relationship with this physician, who should have a strong understanding and appreciation of the complexity of UC.
A gastroenterologist is the physician that many people with UC see on a more regular basis. A gastroenterologist administers tests, such as a colonoscopy, and also prescribes medical treatments. In some cases, at inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) specialty centers, the gastroenterologist may be the first point of contact for all medical decisions regarding a UC patient.
A colorectal surgeon is an important part of the care team for people with UC. A colorectal surgeon has specialty in performing surgery on the colon and the rectum. This means that colorectal surgeons have had advanced training in digestive diseases and how to treat them surgically. In some cases, a patient with UC may be referred to a colorectal surgeon for a consultation, especially if there are complications and if the disease might be managed more effectively with surgery. However, seeing a colorectal surgeon does not mean that surgery is a foregone conclusion or that medical therapy has failed. Surgery is one more option in the toolkit for managing UC.