At Glacier Surgical Associates, Dr. Shannon Gulley offers colon-related surgical procedures and techniques to her patients. The doctor and her staff serve the residents of Palmer, Alaska and nearby communities.
A colonoscopy procedure is when Dr. Gulley uses a small scope to view the lining of the colon and identify and remove colorectal polyps or cancer if necessary. Patients should begin getting the exam at age 50, and repeating every 5-10 years depending on the results. Colonoscopies are a great way to identify cancerous growths before a major operation is needed. Patients will need to empty their bowels the day before the procedure, following instructions from Dr. Gulley. Patients will undergo general anesthesia for the exam, which lasts under an hour. We recommend a friend or family member drives the patient home from the exam. Be sure to avoid alcohol and operating a vehicle for 24 hours, but otherwise, patients can resume a normal diet and activities.
The majority of colon polyps are not cancerous. Colon polyps are small growths that appear throughout the colon. Most are harmless and will eventually go away on their own. Others, however, will begin to change over time resulting in cancerous growths and lesions. Symptoms of colon cancer include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Cancerous polyps are mostly found during colonoscopies and other tests that are used to check the health of the colon. Colorectal procedures are available to help remove cancerous lesions and correct problems that can affect a person's overall health.
Colon surgery may be needed if certain signs and symptoms are noticed and it is believed that the condition has progressed past the point where oral medications or other non-invasive procedures offer relief. If a colonoscopy finds cancerous polyps, the doctor may choose to surgically remove them. Colon surgery may also be needed if other conditions like Crohn's or irritable bowel syndrome have damaged the colon to the point where it no longer functions correctly. Doctors have the technology to sufficiently repair the colon without removing it completely. These surgical advancements offer patients more alternatives to extreme procedures that were offered in the past.
Patients who suffer from Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome may begin to develop scar tissue in the colon and rectum that can affect how those organs function. Diverticulitis, colonic bleeding, bowel obstructions, rectal prolapse, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids can effectively be treated by various types of colon surgery. In some cases, restructuring the bowel may be required to effectively control certain types of conditions that affect the colon. In the end, however, the surgical procedures that are performed can have a significant impact on the quality of life for the person being treated.
Glacier Surgical Associates accepts most major insurance plans. Here is a short-list of just some of the most popular plans they accept. Please contact the office if you do not see your insurance provider listed here.