Treating Gastrointestinal Conditions With Minimally Invasive Surgery

According to the latest reports from the medical field, more than six million gastrointestinal surgeries are performed each year. Ranging from routine appendectomies to tumor removals, they help improve quality of life and, in many cases, even save lives. Most of them aren’t quite as invasive as they once were thanks to advances in technology and techniques, but they’re more effective than ever.

Irritable bowel disease affects more than 1.5 million Americans, causing abdominal and joint pain, loss of appetite, and a number of other symptoms. While some insist conditions in this category can be controlled through diet, most who suffer from them are painfully aware it’s more a matter of if you eat than what you eat. Some medications can alleviate the symptoms to a degree, such as over-the-counter fiber supplements and pain reducers. Prescription corticosteroids, antibiotics, and other options have also been found to help.

IBD has no cure, but certain surgical procedures are often recommended to treat bleeding, infections, abnormal growths, and other complications. Surgeons may remove all or parts of the large or small intestines. In some cases, patients may also need an ileostomy, an opening in the lower portion of the small intestine, for removing waste from the body.

Another common condition is gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Normally, food passes through the mouth and esophagus before reaching the stomach where it’s digested. For those suffering from GERD, stomach contents retrace their paths back into the esophagus. Aside from causing severe heartburn and nausea, this condition can also lead to significant damage to the esophagus.

Again, dietary changes sometimes reduce the symptoms, but they often don’t eliminate them entirely. Over-the-counter antacids, as well as H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, also help to an extent. For some, anti-reflux surgery is the only solution. In this type of procedure, the upper curved portion of the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus and affixed in place to help minimize or eliminate reflux.

With both conditions, corrective procedures can often be done laparoscopically. This means they’re done through small incisions outside the area immediately affected by the illness being treated. Laparoscopic techniques help reduce scarring, trauma to surrounding tissues, and even recovery time. When it comes to these types of procedures, it’s important to pair an experienced surgeon with a facility offering the right equipment, such as Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. Learn more about what they have to offer through