Glossary of terms:


Large bowel: the colon and rectum (including the appendix and the anus)

Small bowel: the small intestine that runs from the exit of the stomach down to the start of the large bowel. It comprises the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum.

Colon: part of the large bowel. Comprises the ascending (right) colon, the transverse, the descending (left) colon and the sigmoid colon.


Haemorrhoids: areas of densely packed blood vessels inside the anal canal. Commonly known as ‘piles’. They may bleed, cause itching, pain or prolapse out of the anal canal.

Anal fissure: split or tear in the anal canal.

Perianal abscess: abscess (collection of pus) close to the anal canal

Ischio-rectal abscess: abscess slightly further from the anal canal, on the innermost aspect of the buttock.

Inflammatory bowel disease: conditions in which there is visible inflammation of the bowel. Typical forms are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Microscopic colitis: conditions where the bowel is inflamed but the inflammation is not visible to the naked eye. Examples include: lymphocytic colitis and collagenous colitis.

Adhesions: scar tissue within the abdomen that typically occurs after surgery. May lead to intestinal obstruction ie ‘blockage’.

Volvulus: twist of the intestine that generally results in bowel blockage.

Stoma: a bag on the abdominal wall into which bowel content may be directed as a result of surgery.

Fistula: generally meaning a short track / communication between the bowel and the skin. Near the bottom, these can lead to peri-anal and ischio-rectal abscesses.


Multi-disciplinary teams: groups of professionals whose expertise is used to treat certain conditions eg bowel cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, pelvic floor problems, intestinal failure or radiation enteritis.