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Certification by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery

The surgeon who has attained Certification by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery (ABCRS) has specialized knowledge and skill with regard to problems of the colon, rectum, anus and small bowel. In addition to having proficiency in the field of general surgery, board certified colon and rectal surgeons have attained particular expertise in diagnosis as well as medical and surgical management (including preoperative and postoperative care) in the following areas:

  • Anorectal conditions
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Fissures
  • Abscesses
  • Fistulas
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Chronic ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Colonic neoplasms
  • Cancer
  • Polyps
  • Familial polyposis
  • Endoscopy of the colon and rectum
  • Rigid and flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Endoscopic polypectomy
  • Intestinal and anorectal physiology for management of
  • Anal incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal prolapse

To be certified by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery, the surgeon must have met a standard in colon and rectal surgery by fulfilling specified educational, credentialing and examination requirements:

  1. Educational
    Must have graduated from an accredited medical school.
    Must have satisfactorily completed a minimum of five years of graduate general surgical education in an accredited residency program in the United States or Canada.
    Must have satisfactorily completed at least one year of colon and rectal surgical training in an accredited residency program in the United States or Canada. In addition to the general surgical background, the candidate surgeon must have obtained operative and patient management experience with diseases of the colon and rectum as deemed adequate by the Board.
  2. Review of Credentials
    After satisfactory completion of their graduate education, surgeons may apply for certification by the ABCRS.
    Candidates must have successfully completed the written Qualifying examination and the oral Certifying examination of the American Board of Surgery.
    Candidates provide a detailed colorectal operative experience record and recommendations from training program directors for review by the ABCRS.
  3. Examinations
    Applicants for certification must first pass a day-long written Qualifying examination which assesses their knowledge base. This examination includes testing in Radiology and Pathology as these disciplines relate to colon and rectal surgery.

After satisfactory completion of the Qualifying examination, candidates are admissible to the oral Certifying examination. During this examination candidates are each interviewed by three teams of prominent colon and rectal surgeons who evaluate the candidate's ability to manage ordinary and complex colon and rectal surgical problems and determine if the candidates should be granted certification.

Since 1990, the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery has issued certificates that are valid for 10 years. Once certified, the colon and rectal surgeon who wishes to maintain certified status upon expiration of the original certificate must complete a recertification process. Diplomates certified prior to 1990 were issued certificates having no expiration date, and they are not affected by time limited certification.

The recertification process includes a review of credentials to determine if the colon and rectal surgeon has continued surgical education, is respected by peers and is active in the practice of colon and rectal surgery. Successful completion of a written examination completes the recertification process, and the colon and rectal surgeon's certification is extended for an additional 10 years.