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What To Expect When You Are Going To Have Surgery

If you are reading this, and the thought of having an operation is a little daunting, it may be helpful to arm yourself with some useful information. For most folks, the mere idea of undergoing a surgery can be a stressful and confusing time. Many people are still recovering from the surprise that their condition requires an operation, and are unprepared and overwhelmed with the amount of information they are given in anticipation of the procedure. Below is a brief and simplified summary of some of the things you may be told and are expected to understand. Because every surgery is a little different in regard to indications, expectations, risks, and recovery, the guide below should serve as a road map to help you navigate the process.

Most surgeons use the terms preoperative, perioperative, and postoperative to describe the various stages involved, and we will break these down to make understanding them a little easier.

Preoperative

Everything involved in the preparation for a surgical procedure falls under this category. In some instances, this stage is ...

Are you ready for surgery?

For most folks, the idea of undergoing an operation can be a stressful and confusing time. If the thought of having a surgery is a little daunting, it may be helpful to arm yourself with some useful information.

Before any operation, you should have the opportunity to talk with your surgeon. This consultation should include an explanation of why you need a surgery, what other options are available, and what the surgery and recovery entail. All operations have risks and complications and you should learn about them as part of the decision making process.

It is often necessary to perform certain tests or studies prior to your surgery. These are for your benefit so that your surgeon has as much information about you and your situation as possible. Surgeons do not like surprises.

Make sure to follow your preoperative instructions. This is your side of the bargain after you have decided to have surgery. Following directions about medications, fasting (not eating), and other preparation for an operation is essential to making the day go as smoothly as possible.

Some other tips for the day of your surgery include...

How to prepare your child for surgery

Surgery can be a stress and anxiety producing event for anyone, let alone a child. At Swedish, Child Life Specialists help children and families cope with the surgery process. Child Life Specialists are available to help educate and prepare children and families prior to surgery in our outpatient surgery center.

There are some things you can do as a parent to help better prepare yourself and your child for surgery before coming to the hospital:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider to educate yourself about the surgery process and what to expect.
  • Talk to your child in advance about their surgery in an honest, matter-of-fact manner. Younger children need to start hearing about their upcoming surgery 2-3 days prior to their visit. School age and teenage children can handle talking about their surgery a few weeks in advance. Using books and similar resources can be helpful in talking to your child about their surgery.
  • Offer children some control wherever possible. Have your child ....

What should you know about pain killers after surgery?

Recovering from major surgery is an active process that typically takes 6 weeks. Surgical pain is normal and expected, but the pain experience may be different for individuals. Since pain can interfere with your ability to participate in activities to prevent complications (coughing, deep breathing, walking), treating pain is critically important for a successful surgical recovery. Many patients are afraid to take prescription narcotics or “pain killers” because they do not want to become “addicted.” However, untreated pain can lead to the development of permanent pain pathways to the brain, which can delay your recovery and possibly even result in chronic pain.

Narcotic use varies among individuals and there is a big difference between drug dependence and addiction. Dependence is when the body has become accustomed to the medication. This can occur anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks after you start taking pain killers regularly, like after surgery. Addiction, however, generally implies that the medication or substance is interfering with your life in some way. You can become dependent on pain killers during your surgical recovery, but with medical management of your withdrawal from these medications, you will avoid addiction. It is important to use your prescription pain killers as directed to avoid overuse. On the other hand, you do not want to avoid using pain killers when you need them to remain comfortable and active. Stopping your pain killers “cold turkey” can be dangerous and it may cause considerable discomfort. The surgical team will work with you to develop a plan to wean you off your pain killers gradually and safely, at a time when you are ready.

The universal goal is to taper as quickly as your physical, mental and emotional status allows. Since there is ....

Is Robotic Surgery Right For You?

In recent years, there has been a surge in the popularity of robotic surgery. This is an exciting new technology that is being actively used by many specialists here at Swedish. In General Surgery, we have been using a minimally invasive approach called laparoscopy for many years. This allows us to use smaller incisions, giving the patient much less pain and a quicker recovery.  Robotic surgery is very similar.

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about robotic surgery:

Are incisions smaller with robotic surgery than with laparoscopy?

No. The incisions are pretty much the same. As a patient, you might not be able to tell much of a difference from the surface.

Do the robotic instruments allow the surgeon to perform a better operation?

Robotic Colectomy

I recently appeared in a series of videos where I discuss robotic colectomy. A colectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the large intestine. Colectomy is also referred to as "colon resection." Robotic colectomy is a type of minimally invasive surgery to remove all or part of the large intestine. It is done to treat serious colorectal conditions such as colorectal cancer, diverticulitis and blockages caused by scar tissue. You can learn more about robotic colectomy and its advantages by watching the videos. Click here to see the playlist or watch below:

 

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When a belly ache or stomach pain might mean appendicitis

As a pediatric surgeon, I am often asked when to “worry” about abdominal pain. Children often report aches or pains near the belly button (umbilicus), and the question arises around when this might mean something significant such as appendicitis.

Appendicitis is a common occurrence affecting about 7% of people over their lifetime, and it begins with vague abdominal pain of the central abdomen. Once the appendix becomes obstructed and begins to suffer from lack of circulation (ischemia), the body can detect more accurately the exact source of the pain. After this localization occurs, children older than 6 or so can identify that the pain is most severe in the right lower part of the abdomen. The localization usually occurs within 24 hours of feeling unwell. The pain is typically worse with movement of the appendix during activities such as walking, coughing, and change in position. I often ask children to jump up and down (on their bed is something kids are excited to do!) and watch their face to see if they wince. Typically with appendicitis, a child will either refuse to jump or may try it once but will not continue due to the pain.

Distraction is also frequently used in children that seem to be particularly “focused” on their pain. In gently feeling the abdomen of a child with early appendicitis that is distracted, the abdomen is soft until palpating the area of the appendix. This right lower part of the abdomen is...

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