Undergoing an abdominal surgery can be stressful enough. But when certain medical issues require multiple procedures to be performed in the same area, it’s important to utilize the best resources available to ensure a safe and sustainable outcome.
Although not a routine occurrence, undergoing multiple abdominal surgical procedures does happen and can often stem from several common issues. According to surgical experts, some of the most common developments that require multiple surgeries are intestinal abnormalities such as diverticulitis. "Patients often go to the operating room in an emergency to repair a rupture in the intestine, but doctors can’t put the system back together in that initial procedure," said Dr. Har Chi Lau, a surgeon with Hudson Valley Surgical Group.
Lau likened this type of sudden rupture and the need for repeated surgery to having a broken garden hose. "Say your hose gets a hole," he said. "What we'll do is cut out the segment that has the hole and we're left with two open ends. We'll suture the lower end shut and attach the upper end to an ostomy bag to remove waste. What we'll eventually do is connect the two areas and restore the normal digestive flow."
Another instance when multiple surgeries becomes necessary is with the discovery of a previously unknown illness. "For example, we may be removing your gallbladder and shortly afterwards you discover you have prostate cancer and need to reenter the area," said Lau. "The two problems may be unrelated, but other issues can surface shortly after a procedure."
When dealing with the second, third or fourth surgery of an affected area, Lau warned that procedures are often more difficult and may not be as longstanding as a well-executed initial treatment. "Re-operating requires a unique skill set because things are all stuck together inside the body in what we call adhesion," he said. In other words, previously cut areas often contain mesh implants, scar tissue and other obstacles that surgeons must work around to reenter a wound site.
Although developments in imaging and robotics have advanced many current surgical procedures, multiple abdominal surgeries still rely heavily on traditional surgical practices. "Technology has not necessarily made multiple surgeries easier," said Lau. "Positive outcomes are still dependent on surgical expertise, having been around and doing these procedures often. Cameras help you see better, but it’s all still in the hands of the surgeon."
While Lau said there's no certain way to prevent needing multiple procedures, the key is choosing the right surgeon and operation the first time. "When you go in for the first surgery, pick the surgeon that’s experienced in fixing your problem and has a record of success," he said. "Since every time you go for an operation it’s harder on you and your body, it's so important to get the right person up front."
For more information on the procedures offered by Hudson Valley Surgical Group, click here.