Constipation is a common condition that involves infrequent or hard bowel movements that may occur as a result of insufficient fluid consumption or a diet that does not contain enough fiber. Depending on how often you normally have a bowel movement will determine what is considered to be “infrequent” for each individual patient, but is usually defined as fewer than three stools a week. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes or other conditions may be at an increased risk of experiencing constipation.
Although constipation is not usually a serious condition, it can lead to complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, fecal impaction or rectal prolapse. It is important to seek prompt medical attention for persistent constipation.
Most cases of constipation are temporary and can be resolved through changes in diet and fluid consumption or increasing physical activity. Some patients may require medications, such as over-the-counter laxatives, to help treat constipation and encourage bowel movements. Your doctor will inform you on how to prevent constipation and keep stools from accumulating in the future through healthy bowel habits.
Colorectal Cancer Surgery
Colon cancer refers to cancer of the large intestine (colon) while rectal cancer refers to cancer of the last 6 inches of the colon (rectum). Cancers affecting either of these organs are collectively known as colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men around the world, and fourth most common for women.
Colorectal cancer occurs when some of the cells that line the colon or the rectum become abnormal and grow uncontrollably. Most cases of colorectal cancer begin as small, benign clumps of cells called polyps. Over time some of these polyps may become cancerous. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms.
Regular screening tests can help prevent colon cancer by identifying polyps before they become cancerous. If signs and symptoms of colon cancer do appear, they may include changes in bowel habits, blood in your stool, abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue.
In colorectal cancer surgery, the cancerous part of the colon or rectum is removed, along with some normal tissue on each side to ensure no cancer is left behind. Dr. Kim offers minimally invasive laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgical techniques to ensure the fastest, most comfortable recovery process for patients. In many cases, the healthy portions of the colon or rectum can be reattached during surgery. However, if this is not possible (for example, if the cancer is at the outlet of your rectum), you may need a permanent or temporary colostomy. This involves creating an opening in the wall of your abdomen for the elimination of body waste into a special bag.
Crohn's Disease Treatment
Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It can occur anywhere in the tract, but is most frequently found in the small intestine.
The intestine can become inflamed as a result of infection or an abnormal immune system reaction. The actual cause of Crohn's disease is not known. It is believed that most instances are caused by the immune system mistaking food and bacteria for foreign substances and trying to attack them, causing a buildup in the intestines. The disease is also believed to be hereditary, as 20% of people affected have a direct relative with Crohn's disease or another IBD. Crohn's disease is also found more often in people between the ages of 20 and 30, of Jewish heritage and Eastern European descent.
Once Crohn's disease has been diagnosed, it is important to begin treatment depending on the type and severity of symptoms. While Crohn's disease cannot be cured, it can be treated effectively to minimize the effects on your daily life. Treatment of Crohn's disease often includes anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics and over-the-counter medicine. Surgery may be recommended for patients with more severe or unresponsive symptoms. Life changes such as a change in diet and regular exercise can also help reduce the symptoms of Crohn's disease.
While Crohn's disease is not fatal, it is a serious condition that can take a toll on your body and mind. It is important to treat your symptoms as effectively as you can and retain a positive attitude to keep the disease from affecting your daily life.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease that involves inflammation and sores in the lining of the rectum and colon. These sores, known as ulcers, can flare up and cause painful symptoms and can lead to colon cancer.
The cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but may be associated with immune system abnormalities. Stress and other environmental factors may trigger symptoms when the condition exists.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis occur in flare-ups that can be sudden and severe or begin gradually. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pains
Treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on the severity of the disease, but can include drug therapy to induce and maintain remission. Many people with ulcerative colitis eventually need their colons removed because of excessive bleeding and a high risk of cancer. Dr. Kim performs a surgical procedure that removes the affected tissue and can potentially cure the disease.
A colostomy is a surgical procedure performed to attach the end of the large intestine to the abdominal wall to compensate for the loss of the colon, anus and/or rectum. This allows the stool to still leave the body in an orderly fashion, as it is collected in the bag attached to the abdomen.
This surgery is generally performed on colorectal cancer patients whose life is at stake if their colon is not removed. Temporary colostomies are performed after corrective/repair surgery is performed on the colon or rectum that requires a certain period of "rest". In these cases, the colostomy is reversed once these structures are healed and fully capable of passing feces as normal.
Colostomies are performed through open surgery, which requires general anesthesia and thus poses certain risks to the patient undergoing the procedure.