What is Gastrointestinal Surgery?
Gastrointestinal (GI) surgery is a broad term used to describe a number of surgical procedures that take place in the abdomen (belly). GI surgery is done to treat problems with the organs of the gastrointestinal tract. This is the part of the body responsible for digesting food and extracting the nutrients needed for survival. The GI tract includes the:
- Mouth, esophagus (food tube) and stomach
- Pancreas, liver, gallbladder and bile ducts (biliary system)
- Small intestine, large intestine (colon) and appendix
- Rectum and anus
Some common types of GI surgeries for children include appendectomy (appendix removal) or gastrostomy tube (g-tube) placement. It can also be used to treat nutritional and metabolic disorders.
What are the Risks and/or Side Effects?
GI surgery can be very basic, or highly complex. The risks depend on the type of surgery your child needs and how the surgery will be done. Talk with your child’s surgeon to learn everything you can about your child’s surgery and condition.
How is it Done?
GI surgery can be done as open surgery or as laparoscopic surgery.
- Open surgery is when the surgeon makes a large incision (cut) in the belly to reach the area to be treated. This type of surgery requires a hospital stay and can take several weeks to recover completely.
- Laparoscopic surgery is when the surgeon makes a small incision in the belly and inserts a thin, narrow tube containing a small camera and light (scope) and specialized tools. The scope sends pictures to a large television screen so that the surgeon can see the area to be treated. Other small incisions are used to insert additional tools to help the surgeon work. In most cases, this type of surgery can be done on an outpatient basis (no hospital stay required) and it usually takes less time to recover.
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