Facing Surgery for UC?
As mentioned in my previous blog entry the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) estimates that as many as 20% of patients with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) will require surgery in their life time. When medical treatments do not provide the needed result you may also find that you are facing surgery for your UC (1).
A proctocolectomy is the most frequent surgery for UC. During a protocolectomy both the large intestine and rectum are removed. During the surgery a stoma may be placed. A stoma is a hole or opening to the outside of the body. In this case an ostomy bag will be worn externally to collect stool. The newer procedure to create a pouch (called an Ileoanal pouch anastomosis) can prevent the need to wear the ostomy bag and is generally the procedure of choice (1,2).
I talked about LouAnn's daughter Monica and her choice to have surgery in previous blog entries. Monica had the pouch created during her surgery and wore a ostomy only temporarily while she healed. Currently she does not require the ostomy device at all and has had phenomenal success with curing the majority of her GI symptoms.
Testimonials aside there are risks to any surgery. Though generally thought to be safe the proctocolectomy risks may include: internal bleeding, blood clots, organ damage, scar tissue which can cause intestinal blockages, poor wound healing or wound opening, problems with nutrient absorption, and "phantom rectum" (3).
According to the CCFA this type of surgery is thought to be curative for those dealing with UC (1). That does not mean it should be taken lightly. The surgical option must be discussed thoroughly with your physician and the risks versus benefits weighed carefully.
Please tune in for the next blog in this series where we discuss surgery in the treatment of Crohn's disease.