Patient Education

Southwestern Surgery Common Surgeries

  • Appendectomy

    Appendectomy is the removal of the appendix for inflammation or infection. In many cases, this can be done laparoscopically with three small incisions, resulting in decreased pain and postoperative disability compared with the traditional open technique. The appendix is a tube-like structure from the right side of the colon which, if blocked, can cause infection and inflammation (appendicitis). This condition most frequently occurs in children and young adults, but may occur at all age ranges.

  • Cholecystectomy (Gallbladder Surgery)

    Cholecystectomy is the removal of the gallbladder and its contents. This may also include removal of gallstones. A cholecystectomy is performed to prevent or treat gallbladder inflammation and/or infection. In most cases a cholecystectomy can be done with four small incisions (laparoscopic cholecystectomy) and is associated with less pain and shorter recovery than the older traditional open technique.

  • Colectomy (Colon Surgery)

    Colectomy is the removal of part of the colon (large intestine or bowel). Surgery may be done for a variety of reasons including cancer, polyps, diverticular disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

  • Endocrine Surgery: Thyroidectomy & Parathyroidectomy

    Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of one half of a thyroid lobe or the total thyroid gland. The procedure is most commonly performed for a thyroid nodule, symptomatic thyroid enlargement (goiter) or cancer.

    Parathyroidectomy is the surgical removal of usually one of the four parathyroid glands due to hyperparathyroidism (excessive production of parathyroid hormone), a condition that can cause a wide range of problems. The most common cause of this condition is an adenoma, a solitary benign tumor. The surgical procedure is relatively painless and results in a small scar. The procedure is sometimes performed as outpatient surgery.

  • Hemorrhoidectomy

    Hemorrhoidectomy is the surgical removal of hemorrhoids, enlarged blood vessels in the anal area. Surgery is reserved for advanced cases where there is involvement of both internal and external hemorrhoids. Proper diagnosis by a physician is essential since the treatment will vary. Most patients can be treated without surgery.

  • Hernia Surgery: Open and Laparoscopic

    A hernia is a weakness of the abdominal wall, usually in the groin, but sometimes secondary to a weakness at the site of an abdominal incision from a prior surgery. Groin hernias can be repaired with either the laparoscopic technique or the traditional open technique. These procedures are usually performed as an outpatient surgery. Incisional hernia repairs are usually done with the open technique but can sometimes be accomplished laparoscopically. The lack of symptoms with a hernia does not mean that the hernia should not be repaired.

  • Laparoscopic Surgery

    Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure where a small fiberoptic camera is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen near the belly button. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide to allow better viewing of the organs within the abdominal cavity. Other small incisions are made in the lower abdomen to allow the placement of additional instruments. Laparoscopy is generally considered an outpatient procedure, and offers many advantages over the abdominal open technique. The recovery period is generally shorter with less pain and discomfort.

    Southwestern Surgery Associates physicians are trained in laparoscopic and advanced laparoscopic surgery and utilize this technique for gall bladder, hernia, colon, Nissen Fundoplication, adrenal gland and other more complex procedures. Your surgeon will be happy to discuss whether you are a candidate for laparoscopy versus open abdominal surgery.
  • Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication: Surgery for the treatment of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and hiatal hernia

    Surgery for gastroesophageal reflux disease is performed to prevent the inappropriate flow of stomach contents into the esophagus. Normally, there is a barrier that prevents reflux. When the barrier is not functioning properly, reflux occurs. The esophagus becomes inflamed, and may cause a hiatal hernia, pain, and inflammation of the lungs or even cancer. Surgery recreates the barrier with natural body tissue, eliminates heartburn, repairs the hiatal hernia, and usually eliminates the need for medication.

  • Mastectomy

    Breast cancer or precancer is usually treated with either a partial mastectomy (also known as a lumpectomy) or the traditional mastectomy (removal of the breast). Surgery is a vital component of the multi-specialty approach to treatment of breast cancer. It serves to locally treat the breast cancer and provides information for possible further treatment or follow-up. Either type of operation may be performed with sentinel lymph node biopsy (see below).

  • Oncology Surgery: Melanoma & Sarcoma

    Melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer, is an abnormal growth of pigment in the skin. Wide surgical excision (removal) is the treatment of choice for this disease. For patients with intermediate thickness melanomas, sentinel lymph node biopsy (see below) may be indicated. For patients with positive sentinel lymph nodes, therapeutic lymph node dissection is usually performed and postoperative adjuvant treatment (complementary therapy) with alpha interferon (a medication used to treat certain types of cancer) is usually recommended.

    A Sarcoma is a malignant (cancerous) tumor of the soft tissue. There are many types of soft tissue sarcomas. Sarcomas can occur on the extremities (arms and legs) as well as the trunk (chest and back). Sarcomas usually invade the surrounding tissue and can metastasize (spread) to other organs of the body, usually the lungs. Most sarcomas are treated with multi-modality treatment i.e. surgery, radiation (treatment with high-dose x-rays), and sometimes chemotherapy (treatment with anticancer drugs). In many sarcomas, a treatment involving brachytherapy (intraoperative placement of radioactive implants) is often used in combination with the surgical procedure.


Southwestern Surgery Common Diagnostic Tests

  • Colonoscopy

    Colonoscopy is a diagnostic test using a special scope called a colonoscope that allows the physician to look inside the colon (large intestine or bowel). The physician can obtain a tissue sample for biopsy to help in the diagnosis if there is blood in the stool, pain in the abdomen, prolonged diarrhea, or abnormalities found on other studies. Colonoscopy may also be done periodically to monitor people with a history of polyps, colon cancer or family history of colon cancer.

  • Proctosigmoidoscopy

    Proctosigmoidoscopy is a test using a special viewing instrument called a sigmoidoscope that allows the physician to look inside the rectum and lower colon.

  • Sentinel Node Lymphatic Mapping and Biopsy

    Sentinel Node Lymphatic Mapping and Biopsy is a new procedure used in some cancers (particularly with breast and melanoma) to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The procedure involves injecting a radioactive marker and blue dye into the area of the tumor. The dye is absorbed into the lymphatic system and identifies the "sentinel node", or the node that is closest to the tumor. The surgeon is able to accurately identify and remove the sentinel node and send it to the pathologist for precise diagnosis. The theory applies that patients with no cancer in their lymph nodes do not need further radical resection, while those patients with positive lymph nodes (cancer cells are detected) do need lymphadenectomy (removal of lymph nodes) of the involved area. This theory is applied widely in melanoma, but is controversial in breast cancer. Is sentinel lymph node biopsy indicated in your particular cancer? Your surgeon will be happy to discuss the pros and cons with you.

  • Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

    Stereotactic breast biopsy is a new method to precisely and accurately sample tissue from a suspected abnormality found on a mammogram. The mammogram machine is used with a special needle that is inserted in the skin. It is a useful test to obtain tissue samples from the suspected abnormal area and it may provide an accurate diagnosis. However, in selected circumstances, some patients are best served with either a fine needle aspiration or an open biopsy. Your physician will discuss the various options to arrive at an individual treatment plan.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended to be used as a substitute for treatment or diagnosis by a licensed physician. Further, it is not intended to be all-inclusive. Always consult a physician regarding the diagnosis or treatment of your medical condition.