Gastrointestinal surgery is an umbrella term used for various surgical interventions that are performed on organs involved in digestion. These include the oesophagus, stomach, intestines (both large and small), and rectum. The liver, gallbladder and pancreas also form a part of the digestive system.
There are many reasons for which surgical interventions may be required. These include the extraction of malignant and benign growths from the gastrointestinal tract, repair, removal and replacement of damaged or non-functional organs, diagnosing and assessing conditions involving the digestive tract and correcting malformations.
Here are a few gastrointestinal problems that call for the need of surgical intervention :
Appendicitis - It refers to an inflammation in the appendix, which is caused as a result of infection. The problem can be treated with the help of an appendectomy, which refers to the removal of the appendix.
Gastrointestinal cancers like colon cancer - Gastrointestinal cancers are those which develop in the organs of the gastrointestinal tract and are usually present in the form of tumours or lesions. Surgical intervention is performed to remove the tumour along with the damaged or diseased part of the affected organ.
Diverticular disease - Diverticulum is a tiny pouch present in the colon, which does not have any specified purpose. Sometimes, the pouch can become inflamed resulting in diverticulitis. The problem can be quite painful, however, it is usually managed without any surgical intervention. Surgery is the last resort of treatment that is recommended in case of chronic diverticulitis. It involves the removal of the affected part of the intestine.
Gallbladder disease - This involves a variety of conditions that specifically affect the gallbladder. The most common of these is gallstones. The problem can be treated surgically. The surgical removal of the gallbladder is known as cholecystectomy.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)and hiatal hernia - Commonly referred to as acid reflux, GERD is a condition marked by the reversed flow of acid produced in the stomach, into the oesophagus, resulting in heartburn. This can happen due to a number of reasons, hiatal hernia has been the most common. The problem can be fixed with the surgical procedure known as fundoplication. After fixing the hernia, the upper portion of the stomach is wrapped around the lower part of the oesophagus, to strengthen the sphincter and prevent the backward flow of acid.
Hernia - It is a condition marked by the weakening of the muscular wall, which allows the underlying organs to protrude or bulge out. The bulge can be easily felt on touch and becomes more prominent when you sneeze or cough. The condition can be painful and treated surgically by repairing the muscular wall.
Inflammatory bowel disease - It is a condition in which the person's immune system starts attacking the intestines, resulting in chronic pain and inflammation. If the problem is left untreated for long it can cause permanent damage to the intestine. Surgery involves the removal of the diseased part of the intestine and reconnecting the healthy ends. This intervention is popularly referred to as bowel resection.
Rectal Prolapse - Rectal prolapse is a condition in which a patient's intestine comes out through the anus. The problem can be treated surgically.
Weight loss - This involves a wide range of bariatric surgery, i.e. weight loss procedures that aim at reducing the patient's appetite by removing or binding a part of their digestive tract, especially stomach and intestines.
Endoscopy - It is essentially a diagnostic modality, widely used in the screening and diagnosis of various diseases and ailments involving the digestive tract. It involves the use of a special device known as an endoscope, which is introduced inside the patient's body via tiny incisions.