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When Do You Need Gastrointestinal Surgery?

Need of Gastrointestinal Surgery

One of the most significant parts of the body is the digestive system. Disorders of the gastric system encompass a variety of diseases ranging from mild to severe. 

GI disorders are Colorectal Cancer, Crohn's Disease, Cancer malignancies, Intestinal Obstruction, Overweight, and many more that can not be treated through medications and may result in prolonged illness or fatality. Such conditions require surgical intervention as a treatment.

Let's briefly explore the conditions that require Gastrointestinal surgeries.

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What are the Conditions that Require Gastrointestinal Surgeries?

Gastrointestinal surgeries are techniques that are done to treat and diagnose many gastric disorders. GI surgeries are not limited to treating Inflammatory bowel disease, GI bleeding, and Pancreatic disorders but also can be done to treat conditions like weight loss, cancer, and many more. 

The following most common conditions required gastrointestinal surgeries:

  • Refractory GERD: Despite lifestyle modifications and medication, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may persist, causing debilitating symptoms like chronic heartburn and difficulty swallowing. In such cases, surgical options like fundoplication offer a lasting solution by fortifying the weakened lower esophageal sphincter, preventing acid reflux.
  • Gallbladder Diseases: Gallbladder ailments, including the formation of gallstones or inflammation (cholecystitis), often necessitate surgical removal. When pain and discomfort persist despite conservative measures, cholecystectomy emerges as the definitive solution, alleviating symptoms and preventing further complications.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: In severe instances of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, where conventional treatments falter, or complications arise, surgical intervention becomes imperative. Procedures such as bowel resection or colectomy may be warranted to manage strictures, fistulas, or uncontrollable symptoms, restoring quality of life.
  • Cancer treatment: Colon cancer, a prevalent malignancy, often demands surgical intervention for effective treatment. Surgical procedures range from tumor excision (partial colectomy) to extensive resections (total colectomy) depending on cancer staging and patient-specific factors.
  • Diverticulitis Complications: Recurrent diverticulitis episodes or complications such as abscess formation necessitate surgical intervention. Procedures like segmental colon resection address underlying pathology, reducing the risk of recurrent episodes and associated complications.
  • Metabolic and Weight Management Challenges: GI surgeries are also done for weight loss. Bariatric surgeries emerge as transformative interventions for individuals grappling with severe obesity and related metabolic issues. Gastric bypass or Sleeve gastrectomy facilitates weight loss and mitigates associated comorbidities, heralding a new chapter of health and vitality. It is estimated that patients will typically lose 60% to 80% of their excess body weight.
  • Hernia treatment: Hernias, disruptions where organs protrude through weakened abdominal walls, often require surgical correction to prevent complications like bowel obstruction or strangulation. Hernia repair procedures restore structural integrity, alleviating discomfort and reducing the risk of serious complications.
  • Pancreatic Diseases: Chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic malignancies may necessitate surgical interventions when conservative measures fail to provide relief. Pancreatectomy procedures, ranging from partial to total removal, address underlying pathology and alleviate symptoms, enhancing patient comfort and quality of life.
  • Liver Lesions and Disease: Advanced liver diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, may require surgical intervention for disease management or liver transplantation for life-saving treatment.

For more information about liver tranplantation, you can watch the video below:

What are the Options for General Gastroenterology Surgeries?

Options for Gastrointestinal surgeries

There are two types of gastrointestinal surgeries: upper GI surgery and lower GI surgery. Gastrointestinal surgeons use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible while doing surgeries. Some of the minimally invasive options available are:

  • Endoscopic surgery: In order to access the area for treatment, endoscopy uses an endoscope that is placed through the nose, mouth, or another natural opening in the body. To do surgery, the surgeon inserts tiny instruments through the scope.
  • Laparoscopic surgery: A laparoscope, a thin, flexible tube with a lit camera, is inserted through a small cut to perform surgery during a laparoscopy. To reach the treatment area, the surgeon makes further tiny incisions and inserts tiny instruments through those.
  • Robotic GI surgery: This surgery involves using a computerized system to perform laparoscopic surgery; the surgeon controls mechanical arms that hold a camera and surgical instruments. A console provides a high-definition and magnified three-dimensional view of the surgical site. The robotic arms have a greater range of motion, providing greater flexibility for complex and delicate procedures.


Gastrointestinal surgeries are employed to treat a variety of conditions ranging from benign to life-threatening. While surgery is often considered a last resort after conservative measures have been exhausted, surgery may significantly improve the prospects and quality of life for those with gastrointestinal diseases.

beenish Author Name

An MBA in Healthcare and Hospital Management post-graduate, Beenish Sarwar is a healthcare content writer with extensive knowledge of medical terms. She has gained practical experience working in the quality management and operation department of the hospital and is familiar with advanced treatment and procedures.
Through her writing, she wants to make a meaningful impact by delivering accurate and accessible information to improve patient’s health and well-being. 

This content meets Vaidam Editorial Policy and is reviewed by
Dr. Bhawana Mittal Reviewer Name
Dr. Bhawana Mittal

Dr. Bhawana Mittal has 7+ years of experience in managing patients and their medical queries. With a keen eye for detail and a deep-rooted passion for healthcare and wellness, she is dedicated to ensuring the accuracy and credibility of medical content. Her expertise spans across diverse medical domains, enabling her to review and refine the content on almost all diseases and conditions. 

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