Patients benefit from advancing surgical technology

Published 6:15 am Thursday, October 19, 2017

Continued improvements in medical technology create new techniques and procedures that help us to improve patient experiences and outcomes.

Laparoscopic, or “scope,” surgeries have been a common technique for the past 25 years and have greatly improved recovery time and the overall experience. One example of this is the large number of Harlan patients who have had their gallbladders removed by this method.

But the technique is useful in so many other ways today. For example, in August a local patient, who for years had been suffering from colon-related problems that were not successfully treated by other means, required a surgical treatment that involved removal of the entire colon.

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I offered this opportunity and we chose to do it laparoscopically, which had not been performed in Harlan before. I am happy to say the result was entirely successful and the patient has resumed a more normal life.

The laparoscopic colectomy technique is also sometimes referred to as a minimally invasive colectomy. Several small incisions are made in the abdomen through which a video camera and special surgical tools are used to free the diseased colon.

Several diseases and conditions of the colon may require colectomy for treatment and prevention after other treatments prove ineffective.

Such as: Uncontrollable bleeding, bowel obstruction, colon cancer, crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.

This is also a common type of preventive surgery for patients at high risk of colon cancer.

Colectomy complications can be serious. Precautions must be taken to prevent infection, bleeding, blood clots, and leaking at the connection point. The level of risk for these complications and the option to even use a laparoscopic technique depend on the patient’s overall health.

Laparoscopic colectomy may reduce the pain and recovery time after surgery, but not everyone is a suitable candidate for the procedure. Also, in some situations an operation may begin as a laparoscopic colectomy, but circumstances may force your surgical team to convert to an open colectomy.

This is a safe, effective technique that improves lives and I am professionally and personally pleased it is now locally available to the people of this community.

O. Esan, MD, is a general surgeon at the ARH Daniel Boone Clinic.