Minimally Invasive Laparoscopic Procedure Changes Face of Colon Surgery Colon Cancer, Crohn’s Disease and Diverticulitis Helped by Surgical Approach

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Colon surgery is changing with advancements such as minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures. The patient benefits from less pain and a shorter hospital stay.

A minimally invasive laparoscopic approach to colon surgery offers advantages that change the patient’s experience of surgery and recovery, according to Eric Haas, MD, of Colorectal Surgical Associates in Houston. “Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery is a highly technical, less-invasive approach to colon surgery, with a shorter hospital stay, a smaller scar, and less pain for the patient,” says Dr. Haas, who is a fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon.

Along with T. Bartley Pickron, MD, also a fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon, Dr. Haas has performed more than 200 surgeries since 2004 using this approach. Greater than 90% of their patients receive the minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery for diseases such as colon cancer, diverticulitis, and Crohn’s disease instead of the open approach to surgery. “It makes sense for the patient who recovers with less pain, less post surgery medication and a lower wound infection rate,” says Dr. Pickron.

While laparoscopic techniques for colon cancer have been used for a couple of years, the addition of a minimally invasive approach and the ability to use the procedure for diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease is revolutionary. ”In 2006 we are beginning to see the first published data on benefits of a laparoscopic approach for a wider variety of colon diseases,” says Dr. Haas. “It’s not just for the simple cases of Crohn’s disease, for example, but the more complex as well. Patients who have had previous surgeries, extensive terminal ileal disease, or fistulas can benefit from minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery as well. In fact, those with more complex disease probably benefit the most.”

Drs. Haas and Pickron have chosen to focus on the minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery technique although it has required more training and does take more surgery time. “We are committed to providing the newest technology and recovery benefits to our patients,” says Dr Haas, who serves as a national preceptor for training fellow surgeons around the United States.

According to Drs. Haas and Pickron, most patients are candidates for minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery even if they have had previous abdominal surgery or have other medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, morbid obesity or cardiac problems. The surgeons conduct a complete medical history at the time of the patient’s appointment and discuss the treatment options available.

“Many patients may have gone through years of medication and diet changes for problems such as diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease,” says Dr. Haas. “When these treatments fail or complications arise, surgery to remove part of the colon is another option and we believe that minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery is the best solution for most patients.”

The procedure itself requires a great deal of training, years of experience in performing the minimally invasive laparoscopic approach, and a well-trained hospital operating room staff. During minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, the colorectal surgeons use high magnification cameras and specialized operating instruments. All major maneuvers previously done through the large opening are performed through tiny dime-sized incisions without opening the abdomen to the air.

In this method, a lighted tube and special instruments are placed inside the body through small incisions, rather than one large one. The laparoscope (a tiny high resolution video camera) is inserted through the port, giving the surgeons a magnified view of the internal organs on a video monitor.

The diseased part of the colon is removed through the 2-inch incision and the ends of the colon are joined back together to complete the procedure. For diseases such as diverticulitis, the patient is cured of the illness and gets relief from recurrent attacks once the diseased portion is resected. The minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery provides a shorter recovery period, shorter hospital stay, and less pain and significantly less scarring for the patient.

“The minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery approach is definitely our treatment of choice,” says Dr. Pickron. “We believe this is the best choice with an optimal outcome for the patient whether they have colon cancer, diverticulitis or Crohn’s disease.”

Contact Colorectal Surgical Associates for more information on minimally invasive laparoscopic colon surgery at http://www.houstoncolon.com or call 713-790-0600.

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Vickie Alleman
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