All Medical Procedures

Although an abdominal ultrasound can be done to check for a number of conditions, it can be used to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakened, bulging spot in your abdominal aorta, the artery that runs through the middle of your abdomen and supplies blood to the lower half of your body.

An abdominal ultrasound can also be used to check for other diseases that affect your kidneys, liver, gallbladder and pancreas.

An abdominal ultrasound to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm is recommended for men ages 65 to 75 who are current or former cigarette smokers. Having an abdominal ultrasound to screen for an aortic aneurysm isn't specifically recommended for men who have never smoked, nor women, unless your doctor suspects you may have an aneurysm.

Abdominal hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes your uterus through an incision in your lower abdomen. Your uterus — or womb — is where a baby grows if you're pregnant. A partial hysterectomy removes just the uterus, and a total hysterectomy removes the uterus and the cervix.

Sometimes a hysterectomy includes removal of one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes, a procedure called total hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy (sal-ping-go-o-of-uh-REK-tuh-me).

Hysterectomy can also be performed through an incision in the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy) or by a laparoscopic or robotic surgical approach — which uses long, thin instruments passed through small abdominal incisions. Abdominal hysterectomy may be recommended over other types of hysterectomy if you have a large uterus or if your doctor wants to check other pelvic organs for signs of disease.

A barium enema is an X-ray exam that can detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon). The procedure is also called a colon X-ray.

An enema is the injection of a liquid into your rectum through a small tube. In this case, the liquid contains a metallic substance (barium) that coats the lining of the colon. Normally, an X-ray produces a poor image of soft tissues, but the barium coating results in a relatively clear silhouette of the colon.

During a barium enema exam, air may be pumped into the colon. The air expands the colon and improves the quality of images. This is called an air-contrast (double-contrast) barium enema.

Before a barium enema, your doctor will instruct you to completely empty your colon.

Bilirubin testing checks for levels of bilirubin in your blood. Bilirubin (bil-ih-ROO-bin), an orange-yellow pigment, is a waste product of the normal breakdown of red blood cells. Bilirubin passes through the liver and eventually out of the body — mostly in feces, a small amount in urine.

Before reaching the liver, bilirubin is called unconjugated, meaning uncombined. In the liver, bilirubin combines with certain sugars to create a water-soluble form called conjugated bilirubin. Conjugated bilirubin passes out of the liver, and in the colon, it is converted back into the unconjugated form en route to being excreted from the body.

Most laboratories use a test that detects conjugated bilirubin, which is called direct. By subtracting the direct bilirubin from the amount of total bilirubin, an estimate of unconjugated bilirubin, called indirect, is obtained.

Higher than normal levels of direct or indirect bilirubin may indicate different types of liver problems. Occasionally, higher bilirubin levels may indicate an increased rate of destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis).

Cholecystectomy (koh-luh-sis-TEK-tuh-me) is a surgical procedure to remove your gallbladder — a pear-shaped organ that sits just below your liver on the upper right side of your abdomen. Your gallbladder collects and stores bile — a digestive fluid produced in your liver.

Cholecystectomy may be necessary if you experience pain from gallstones that block the flow of bile. Cholecystectomy is a common surgery, and it carries only a small risk of complications. In most cases, you can go home the same day of your cholecystectomy.

Cholecystectomy is most commonly performed by inserting a tiny video camera and special surgical tools through four small incisions to see inside your abdomen and remove the gallbladder. Doctors call this laparoscopic cholecystectomy. In some cases, one large incision may be used to remove the gallbladder. This is called an open cholecystectomy.

Colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of your colon. Your colon, also called your large intestine, is a long tube-like organ at the end of your digestive system. Colectomy may be necessary to treat or prevent diseases and conditions that affect your colon.

There are various types of colectomy operations:

  • Total colectomy involves removing the entire colon.
  • Partial colectomy involves removing part of the colon and may also be called subtotal colectomy.
  • Hemicolectomy involves removing the right or left portion of the colon.
  • Proctocolectomy involves removing both the colon and rectum.

Colectomy surgery usually requires other procedures to reattach the remaining portions of your digestive system and permit waste to leave your body.

Gastrointestinal endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) is a procedure to remove cancerous or other abnormal tissues (lesions) from the digestive tract.

Endoscopic mucosal resection is performed with a long, narrow tube equipped with a light, video camera and other instruments. During EMR of the upper digestive tract, the tube (endoscope) is passed down your throat to reach an abnormality in your esophagus, stomach or upper part of the small intestine (duodenum).

To remove lesions from the colon, the tube is guided up through the anus.

Primarily a treatment procedure, EMR is also used to collect tissues for diagnosis. If cancer is present, EMR can help determine if the cancer has invaded tissues beneath the digestive tract lining.

Esophageal manometry (muh-NOM-uh-tree) is a test that gauges how well your esophagus works. Your esophagus is the long, muscular tube that connects your throat to your stomach. Esophageal manometry measures the rhythmic muscle contractions (peristalsis) that occur in your esophagus when you swallow. Esophageal manometry also measures the coordination and force exerted by the muscles of your esophagus.

During esophageal manometry, a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that contains sensors is passed through your nose, down your esophagus and into your stomach. Esophageal manometry can be helpful in diagnosing some mostly uncommon disorders that affect your esophagus.

A flexible sigmoidoscopy (sig moi-DOS-kuh-pee) is an exam used to evaluate the lower part of the large intestine (colon). During a flexible sigmoidoscopy exam, a thin, flexible tube (sigmoidoscope) is inserted into the rectum.

A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows the doctor to view the inside of the rectum and most of the sigmoid colon — about the last two feet (61 centimeters) of the large intestine. If necessary, tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken through the scope during a flexible sigmoidoscopy exam.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy doesn't allow the doctor to see the entire colon. As a result, any cancers or polyps farther into the colon can't be detected with flexible sigmoidoscopy alone.

Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries make changes to your digestive system to help you lose weight by limiting how much you can eat or by reducing the absorption of nutrients, or both. Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are done when diet and exercise haven't worked or when you have serious health problems because of your weight.

There are many types of weight-loss surgery, known collectively as bariatric surgery. Gastric bypass is one of the most common types of bariatric surgery in the United States. Many surgeons prefer gastric bypass surgery because it generally has fewer complications than do other weight-loss surgeries.

Still, all forms of weight-loss surgery, including gastric bypass, are major procedures that can pose serious risks and side effects. Also, you must make permanent healthy changes to your diet and get regular exercise to help ensure the long-term success of bariatric surgery.