Gastrointestinal surgery is a specialized field of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the organs of the digestive system. These organs include the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and anus. Gastrointestinal surgery can be included in the treatment plan for a wide variety of conditions, from common problems like appendicitis and gallstones to more serious conditions like colon cancer. Various approaches such as removal of cancerous tissues or non-cancerous benign tumors in various organs such as the intestine, and repair of damaged tissues and organs are implemented within the scope of gastrointestinal surgery. Various gastrointestinal surgical techniques can also be used to repair a problem such as a hernia (a hole or weak spot in the abdominal wall). Minimal surgical procedures may be preferred for screening, diagnosing and monitoring digestive system diseases.
What Are the Different Procedures in Gastrointestinal Surgery?
There are several operations that come under the category of gastrointestinal surgery. Among the most popular procedures are:
Gastrointestinal endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure in which a doctor uses a flexible tube with a camera (endoscope) to view the inside of the digestive tract. There are several types of gastrointestinal endoscopy, including colonoscopy (examination of the colon), upper endoscopy (examination of the esophagus and stomach), and sigmoidoscopy (examination of the rectum and lower colon). The procedure is usually performed to diagnose and treat digestive issues, such as abdominal pain, bleeding, and trouble swallowing. Gastrointestinal endoscopy is typically well tolerated and has few risks.
An appendectomy is the surgical removal of the appendix, a small organ located in the lower right side of the abdomen that connects to the large intestine. The appendix is also known as the cecum. Appendicitis refers to inflammation of the appendix and is a condition that, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications and is often fatal. The treatment of conditions such as appendicitis is surgical and in these cases, appendectomy is an operation that should be performed urgently. The surgery can be performed laparoscopically with small incisions and advanced devices, or openly using traditional methods. Recovery times after appendectomy can vary, but most patients can return to their routine functions after a few weeks. It is very important to follow the doctor's recommendations for post-operative care to minimize the possibility of complications.
Surgical removal of the gallbladder, a small pear-shaped organ located under the liver that is responsible for storing bile fluid, is known as cholecystectomy. The operation can generally be used in the treatment of gallstones, which are small hard lumps that can develop in the gallbladder, in the management of bile duct obstruction and complications due to infection. For cholecystectomy, both a typical open incision and a laparoscopic procedure using small incisions and special devices are available. In some cases, digestive problems such as diarrhea or greasy stools may occur after gallbladder removal. Diet and some pharmacological approaches can be helpful in managing these changes, which are usually temporary.
Hernia repair is a surgical procedure that can be applied to correct the picture that occurs when some organs in the abdomen protrude from a weak spot or cavity in the abdominal wall. Hernias can occur congenitally or later. Hernias may enlarge over time, causing complaints such as swelling and severe pain. The most common areas of hernia in the abdominal wall are the groin, around the navel and previous incision areas. It may manifest with swelling, pain and tenderness under the skin in situations that increase intra-abdominal pressure such as heavy lifting, heavy exercise, coughing, pregnancy, straining and constipation. In some cases, the pain can become intractable. However, conditions such as redness, increase in temperature, limitation of movement and increase in pain severity require emergency intervention. The treatment of hernia is surgery. Hernia repair with laparoscopic method or open surgery usually gives good results.
Gastric bypass or other weight loss operations are known mainly as bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery is a method that can be applied in cases of obesity where diet and exercise are not effective, and in cases where vital functions are affected due to excess weight, such as morbid obesity. While some surgical procedures limit how much to eat by changing the stomach capacity, some procedures provide weight control by being effective on the absorption mechanism of the nutrients taken into the body. Some of the applied procedures work both ways. Bariatric surgery types have some pros and cons. The most accurate and reliable method varies according to the characteristics of the patient. Getting support from a healthcare professional experienced in appropriate treatment planning is also very important for the health of the postoperative process. Bariatric surgery types are mainly sleeve gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. While bariatric surgery can be very beneficial in many cases, all weight loss surgeries carry the potential for serious complications and side effects. Permanent healthy changes in eating habits and regular exercise are essential for the long-term success of bariatric surgery.
The surgical removal of all or a portion of the colon, commonly referred to as the large intestine is called a colectomy. The procedure is typically performed to treat conditions such as colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticulitis (a condition in which small pouches form in the colon wall). Colectomy can be done either through an open incision or laparoscopically. In some cases, a colectomy may be performed as part of a larger procedure, such as a proctocolectomy (removal of the colon and rectum) or an ileostomy (creation of an opening in the abdominal wall to allow waste to be collected in a bag outside the body). These procedures may be necessary for people with more advanced cases of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.
Whipple surgery is one of the most popular surgical operations in pancreatic surgery. The Whipple procedure, also called pancreaticoduodenectomy, is a highly complex surgical operation that involves removing the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), the gallbladder, and the bile duct. With this surgery, the treatment of pancreatic, intestinal and bile duct tumors is targeted. Whipple surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in isolated pancreatic head cancers.
Within the scope of liver surgery, surgeries such as liver transplantation, liver resection or hepatectomy are performed. A hepatectomy is a surgical procedure in which part of the liver is removed. If there is a healthy area in the liver, approximately two-thirds of it can be resected.
Today, many open and closed procedures can be performed within the scope of cancer surgery.
Cancer surgery can be planned for almost any organ such as liver, pancreas, colon, small intestine and stomach. There are various cancer surgery approaches such as partial or total tumor resection and removal of the organ.
Surgical operations can generally be performed in two ways. Large incisions and long recovery periods are expected in open surgeries, which have traditionally been preferred for many years. Open surgery also has a high risk of developing infections and other complications, but in some cases, open surgery may be the only treatment option. Laparoscopic surgeries are also known as closed surgeries. These surgeries are performed by making small incisions and sending cameras through the incisions. With the developing technology, laparoscopic methods can be preferred in many difficult surgeries such as pancreatic surgeries. It has advantages such as shortening the hospital stay and infection control. Open surgery and laparoscopic surgery can also be preferred in cancer surgeries.
What Are the Benefits of Gastrointestinal Surgery?
Gastrointestinal surgery can offer a variety of benefits for people with certain digestive conditions. Some of the potential benefits include the following:
- Relief of symptoms: Surgery can help alleviate abdominal pain, bloating, and difficulty swallowing.
- Improved quality of life: Lots of people experience an improvement in their quality of life after gastrointestinal surgery, as they can eat and function more normally.
- Prevention of complications: In some cases, gastrointestinal surgery can help prevent complications from developing, such as perforation of the colon or appendix.
- Improved long-term health: For conditions such as colon cancer, gastrointestinal surgery can be an important part of treatment and improve long-term health outcomes.
- Weight loss: Some gastrointestinal procedures, including bariatric surgery, can aid patients in shedding pounds and enhancing their general health.
What Are the Precautions to Take Before Gastrointestinal Surgery?
Compliance with the instructions given by the surgeon or medical personnel before gastrointestinal surgery operations is very important to increase the success of the surgery, accelerate the postoperative recovery process and prevent complications. A number of physical examinations, laboratory tests, imaging modalities, and medical evaluations may be performed to assess suitability for surgery. With the guidance of the doctor, some drugs can be stopped, fasting before the operation or some prescribed drugs can be used. Various restrictions such as starting exercise according to a physical activity program, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and reducing fatty diet may be recommended. The most appropriate treatment and treatment preparation plan is decided in cooperation with the doctor according to the characteristics of the patient, the type of disease, and the needs and expectations of the patient.
Health Türkiye - Your One-Stop Guide for Gastrointestinal Surgeries in Türkiye
USHAŞ is an affiliate of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Türkiye, promoting international health services in Türkiye, including the Gastrointestinal Surgery Department, as part of its efforts to support medical tourism. HealthTürkiye was established to coordinate the activities of the private and public sectors for health tourism and to provide a range of services to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions. HealthTürkiye aims to be the world leader in healthcare services with its expert and experienced healthcare teams and healthcare institutions equipped with advanced technology, and to provide guidance services to guests who prefer Türkiye to receive healthcare services from all over the world.
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