FAQ for Surgical Gastroenterologists

What diseases can surgical gastroenterologists treat?

A surgical gastroenterologist deals with surgery on the digestive system that includes- the liver, pancreas, gall bladder, esophagus ( food pipe), stomach, intestines, rectum, and anus. Surgical Gastroenterologist if a surgical counterpart of a Medical Gastronertologist as is a cardiothoracic surgeon for cardiology, a urologist for nephrology, etc.

Does a surgical gastroenterologist treat cancer of the digestive system?

Yes. A surgical gastroenterologist can treat cancers of the digestive system. They can provide better functional outcomes with the removal of cancer as they are daily dealing with a single system daily and are able to handle or preempt complications that can be encountered and thus take steps to prevent them. Also, they are able to do surgery by the minimally invasive method of laparoscopy which enhances the recovery of a patient with less pain and early return to home or work.

Can surgical gastroenterologists treat common ailments like gall stones, hernia, piles, etc.?

Yes, they are trained in dealing with any problem of the digestive system from simple ones mentioned above to more complex procedures like cancers.

What subset of patients can be treated by a Surgical gastroenterologist?

As mentioned above any patient with a problem-related to the digestive system can be treated by a Surgical gastroenterologist.

Do all gall stones require surgery?

If the patient is having gall stones that have not caused any problem to him or her and he is living near a medical facility then one can wait for surgery however with few exceptions – patient undergoing chemotherapy or on immunosuppressive drugs, having multiple small stones, who lives far away from a medical facility.

Do all types of hernias require early treatment?

Yes, all types of hernias require surgery. Earlier the better. Moreover, now all types of hernia surgeries are done by laparoscopy thus causing minimal pain and early recovery.

The cancer spreads if you try to do surgery. Is the above statement true?

It is an untrue and false notion. For many cancers of the digestive system, only surgery is the treatment of choice like liver, pancreas, and gall bladder while in others surgery is supplemented by chemo and radiotherapy.

All types of cancers can be treated by drugs/radiation?

Three modalities are prevalent for the treatment of cancers- surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Any modality alone or in combination is used for the treatment of cancers depending upon the type of cancer.

Obesity is genetic and one is fat because everyone in the family is obese. Is it true?

In less than 3 % of cases, obesity runs in family while in the rest other factors such as dietary habits that is common among all family members are the cause of obesity in the family.

Pancreatic stones can be treated by drugs and surgery has no role in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis?

Whenever a patient with pain is diagnosed with pancreatic stones, surgery provides the best relief of pain than medical treatment. With surgery, there is 90-95% relief of pain while in the case of medical management it is just to the tune of 45-50%. Surgery is the most cost-effective way of treating these patients and helps in slowing pancreatic damage.

Pain or bleeding during the passage of stools is due to hemorrhoids. Is it true?

Patients having problems in the anal area attributes every time to piles but it is not true. One should get himself examined by a specialist and reach the correct diagnosis so that deadly disease like cancer is not missed.

Fatty liver can be treated by drugs. Is it true?

The fatty liver responds best to lifestyle changes than to drugs. Weight loss by decreasing carbohydrates and fat in the diet can reverse fatty liver and prevents its progression to irreversible change like cirrhosis. Unless lifestyle modification is done no drug can help in treating fatty liver.

Liver surgery is very risky and cannot be done?

Liver surgery has become very safe these days. With a better understanding of the liver and new techniques liver surgery has become very safe these days provided it is performed by a surgeon experienced in liver surgery (surgical gastroenterologist)

Is it risky to perform surgery on a jaundice patient?

Patients with jaundice are at risk for surgery but with adequate preparation and optimization, they can undergo surgery safely. In patients with very high bilirubin levels stenting or other modalities are used to decrease jaundice to make surgery safer.