Gastrointestinal and Minimally Invasive Surgery


Gastrointestinal and minimally invasive surgery focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with medical conditions pertaining to their gastrointestinal tracts. These issues can include both chronic and acute illnesses. Minimally invasive surgery can reduce damage to human tissue, and is often robotic-assisted surgery.

What is it?

Gastrointestinal and minimally invasive surgery focuses on the evaluation and surgical correction of complications in the gastrointestinal tract. Surgeons conduct appropriate procedures using endoscopic cameras and small incisions in the body.

What are the subspecialties?

Gastrointestinal and minimally invasive surgeons work with many different specialties to ensure that an appropriate treatment plan is created for a patient. These specialists include gastroenterologists, general surgeons, endocrinologists and oncologists among others.

What are the commonly associated medical diseases or symptoms?

Commonly associated medical conditions include but are not limited to acid reflux, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, hernias, appendicitis, cancers of the GI tract, as well as gallbladder, thyroid and parathyroid diseases. Commonly occurring symptoms that require the assistance of a physician or surgeon in this specialty consist of obesity, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, jaundice and acid reflux.

What are the commonly associated medical procedures?

Examples of commonly associated surgical procedures are hernia repair and gastric surgery, as well as antireflux and esophageal surgery. A hernia repair is performed when hernias become large. During this procedure, the intestine is pushed back into the abdomen, and if the abdomen was torn during the hernia, the torn abdomen is then sewn together. Bariatric surgery is performed to reduce the size of the stomach, often to assist in weight loss. Antireflux esophageal surgery, also known as fundoplication, is performed to prevent stomach acid from reaching the esophagus. During this procedure, the  esophagus is tightened at the lower sphincter.

Are there any preventative measures I can take?

While there are risk factors such as age, gender and family history that might predispose one to gastrointestinal diseases, there are many measures that are under one’s control. The most useful preventative measures include exercise, avoidance of smoking or an environment with smoking, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables with less red meat, and management of one’s weight and blood pressure. Those with a normal risk of colon cancer are advised to participate in screening starting at age 50, but those with a family history of such disease are advised to begin screenings earlier.

What are the common misconceptions about this specialty?

Bariatric surgery, or weight-loss surgery, is often perceived as a lazy way to lose weight. Individuals that are affected by severe obesity may decide after consulting with gastroenterologists and surgeons that bariatric surgery is an appropriate option in a weight management plan. The stigma of weight-loss surgery being a lazy alternative to dieting or exercising is wrong, and it is important to realize that every individual has different medical needs. It is also important for patients who receive bariatric surgery to understand that they are still able to gain weight, even after the surgery, if they are not careful to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime.


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