Gastrointestinal disorders include such conditions as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, perianal abscesses, anal fistulas, perianal infections, diverticular diseases, colitis, colon polyps and cancer. Many of these can be prevented or minimized by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing good bowel habits, and submitting to cancer screening.
What are functional gastrointestinal disorders?
Functional disorders are those in which the gastrointestinal (GI) tract looks normal but doesn’t work properly. They are the most common problems affecting the GI tract (including the colon and rectum). Constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are two common examples.
Many factors may upset the GI tract and its motility (or ability to keep moving), including:
- Eating a diet low in fiber
- Not enough exercise
- Traveling or other changes in routine
- Eating large amounts of dairy products
- Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
- Resisting the urge to have bowel movements due to pain from hemorrhoids
- Overusing laxatives (stool softeners) that, over time, weaken the bowel muscles
- Taking antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminum
- Taking certain medicines (especially antidepressants, iron pills, and strong pain medicines such as narcotics)
Minimal Access Surgery:
Minimal access surgery is completed with one or more small incisions instead of a large incision. The surgeon passes a telescope with a video camera through a small incision (usually only 1/4″ long) into a body cavity. The surgeon then views the surgery on a TV monitor. Surgical instruments are then passed through other similar little incisions. The surgeon examines and operates on the area in question by viewing magnified images on a television. When the telescope is used to operate on the abdomen, the procedure is called laparoscopy. When used in the chest, the procedure is called thoracoscopy, and when used in a joint, it is called arthroscopy.
Upper endoscopy is usually performed to evaluate symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing. It is also the best test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Upper endoscopy is more accurate than x-ray films for detecting inflammation, ulcers, or tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Upper endoscopy can detect early cancer and can distinguish between benign and malignant conditions when biopsies of suspicious areas are obtained. Biopsies are taken for many reasons and do not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected. Upper endoscopy is also used to treat conditions present in the upper gastrointestinal tract. A variety of instruments can be passed through the endoscope that allow many abnormalities to be treated directly with little or no discomfort, for example, stretching narrowed areas, removing polyps (usually benign growths) or swallowed objects, or treating upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Safe and effective endoscopic control of bleeding has reduced the need for transfusions and surgery in many patients.
Laparoscopic surgery is performed through small incisions. A telescope with a video camera inserted through one incision provides visualization of the operation on a TV monitor. Surgical instruments are then passed through additional small incisions, and the entire operation takes place completely within the patient’s body. When the telescope is used to operate on the abdomen, the procedure is called laparoscopy. When used in the chest, the procedure is called thoracoscopy.
A liver transplant is a surgical procedure performed to replace a diseased liver with a healthy liver from another person. The liver may come from a deceased donor or from a living donor. Family members or individuals who are unrelated but make a good match may be able to donate a portion of their liver. This type of transplant is called a living transplant. Individuals who donate a portion of their liver can live healthy lives with the remaining liver, which grows back to its full size.
An entire liver (from a deceased donor) may be transplanted, or just a section. Because the liver is the only organ in the body able to regenerate, a transplanted portion of a liver can grow to normal capacity within weeks.
A liver transplant is a surgical procedure that removes a liver that no longer functions properly (liver failure) and replaces it with a healthy liver from a living or deceased donor. Your liver is your largest internal organ and performs several critical functions, including:
- Removing bacteria and toxins from the blood
- Preventing infection and regulating immune responses
- Processing nutrients, medications and hormones
- Producing bile, which helps the body absorb fats, cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins
- Making proteins that help the blood clot
Liver transplant is usually reserved as a treatment option for people who have significant complications due to end-stage chronic liver disease. In rare cases, sudden failure of a previously normal liver may occur. The number of people waiting for a liver transplant greatly exceeds the number of available deceased-donor livers. The human liver regenerates and returns to its normal size shortly after surgical removal of part of the organ. This makes living-donor liver transplant an alternative to waiting for a deceased-donor liver to become available.
Why it’s done:
Normal liver vs. liver cirrhosis
Liver transplant is a treatment option for people with liver failure whose condition can’t be controlled other with treatments and for some people with liver cancer.
Liver failure may happen quickly or over a longer period of time. Liver failure that occurs quickly, in a matter of weeks, is called acute liver failure (fulminant hepatic failure) and is usually the result of medication-induced liver injury.
Although a liver transplant may treat acute liver failure, it is more often used to treat chronic liver failure. Chronic liver failure occurs slowly over months and years.
Chronic liver failure may be caused by a variety of conditions. The most common cause of chronic liver failure is scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), a process in which scar tissue replaces normal liver tissue and impairs liver function. Cirrhosis is the most frequently cited reason for a liver transplant.
Major causes of cirrhosis leading to liver failure and liver transplant include:
- Hepatitis B and C.
- Alcoholic liver disease.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Genetic diseases affecting the liver (including hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease).
- Diseases that affect the bile ducts (the tubes that carry bile away from the liver), such as primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and biliary atresia. Biliary atresia is the most common reason for liver transplant among children.
Liver transplant may also treat certain cancers that originate in the liver (primary liver cancers).