Gastrointestinal (GI) surgery is a general term referring to procedures performed in the gastrointestinal tracts. When the digestive system is disrupted by disease, diet, or stress, GI surgery may be the best option.
What is it?
Gastrointestinal surgery is any surgery performed on an organ in the gastrointestinal tract. Contents that are subject to operation include the esophagus, mouth, stomach, and intestines.
What should I do to prepare?
When a patient has GI surgery, it is important that he or she follows the eating and drinking guidelines set by their doctor to avoid complications with anesthesia. The patient should speak with his or her doctor regarding current medications to develop appropriate plans. Certain medications like NSAIDS, aspirin, and vitamin supplements should not be taken during the week before surgery, as should smoking. Patients may be advised to begin physical exercises. Patients should expect to have comprehensive diagnostic tests completed prior to the procedure. Furthermore, patients should make transportation accommodations after surgery, since anesthesia impairs the ability to drive.
What happens during the process?
Anesthesia is utilized during most GI surgeries. Once the patient is sedated under general anesthesia, surgeons will open the stomach. Next, the surgeon will work on repairing an organ within the digestive tract, from the esophagus to the lower intestine. During an anti-reflux esophageal surgery, doctors will take the upper section of the stomach and connect it to the lower part of the esophagus. During a gastrectomy, surgeons will remove either part of the stomach or the entire stomach and attach the esophagus to the lower intestine.
What are the risks and potential complications?
Gastrointestinal surgery comes with associated risks that include, but are not limited to:
- Acid reflux disease
- Stomach acid leaking into the esophagus
- Internal bleeding
- Leaking from the infection site
- Gastric dumping syndrome
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