A Surgeon's Perspective

A Surgeon's Perspective: Before, During and After Surgery

By Howard Ross, MD, FACS, FASCRS | July 28, 2014

There are many informative pieces available online describing, from a patient's perspective, what an operation is like and what to expect before, during and after surgery. I feel it's important to provide a surgeon’s perspective as well, and want share with you what I think about when offering surgery to a patient with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

First and foremost, as a colon and rectal surgeon who specializes in the care of patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, I want individuals who struggle with these conditions to feel better and enjoy healthier lives. In certain cases, that may require an operation. But before recommending a surgical procedure, I always speak with the entire gastroenterology team to make sure we have exhausted all non-surgical, medical options for a patient.

By the time most patients get to me, they have certainly gone through a lot of suffering. The very reason I became a colon and rectal surgeon is because of the opportunity I have to dramatically improve a person's quality of life. It is unbelievably rewarding to know that just a few short weeks after surgery, many patients will be able eat more normally, experience less pain and be able to stop wondering if they can "make it" to the bathroom.

My career has been based on developing and improving less invasive surgical approaches for ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, and I am excited and proud to share with patients that minimally invasive surgical options for these conditions do exist. In fact, we perform these kinds of laparoscopic and robotic operations routinely at Temple.

Facing surgery is a scary time for any patient, but I have seen the incredible results that are possible. With minimally invasive procedures, patients can frequently recover faster, with less pain and smaller scars. Performing a laparoscopic j pouch that allows someone to go "anywhere" without worrying where the closest bathroom is, or removing through tiny incisions a segment of intestine that has been responsible for pain, weight loss and an inability to eat normally with friends, are the best parts of my day and the kinds of success stories I am fortunate enough to share.

I can tell you that I work hard to reduce pain in the post-operative period aggressively! I also can tell you that I hate nasogastric tubes and routinely do not use them. I try hard to make you comfortable so you walk and move early in your hospital stay.

Most importantly, I want patients to ask questions and be informed throughout the process. When discussing surgical options for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, I feel as if you and I are in a partnership. If you don’t feel comfortable or can't communicate openly with me, it just won't work. Ultimately, I believe that the surgeon-patient relationship should extend far beyond operating room. My team and I strive to develop a beneficial, long-term relationship with each patient that helps not only around the time of surgery, but far into the future.

About the Author
Howard Ross, MD, FACS, FASCRS,
is the Chief of Colorectal Surgery at Temple University School of Medicine, and Surgical Director of the Digestive Disease Center at Temple University Hospital. Dr. Ross has been named a "Top Doc" in colon and rectal surgery by numerous regional and national publications and specializes in the surgical care of patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, as well as minimally invasive surgical approaches to these diseases. An internationally recognized surgical educator, Dr. Ross has directed laparoscopic colon surgery courses throughout North America, lectured and published extensively on laparoscopic approaches to colon and rectal disease, and made significant contributions to the knowledge of adoption of laparoscopic procedures.

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