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What You Need to Know About IBD Surgical Care

Life-altering. Freeing. Restorative. These are the words patients frequently use to describe the surgeries and treatments they receive from the Hoag Margolis Family Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program. People contending with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis receive more than treatment for their condition; Hoag’s multidisciplinary team provides the comprehensive care that helps return people to their new normal post-surgery.

“Treatment for IBD is founded on multidisciplinary teamwork,” said Elizabeth Raskin, M.D., surgical director for the IBD program within Hoag’s Digestive Health Institute. “Hoag has a collaborative group of internationally known specialists and subspecialists who are dedicated to this mission. Our dynamic team is equipped to address every aspect of IBD care from clinic to operating room to back home.”

“One of the real strengths of our IBD program is the close collaboration we have between our gastroenterologists and our colorectal surgeons,” said Dr. Caroline Hwang, medical director of the IBD program within Hoag’s Digestive Health Institute. “We speak frequently in our multidisciplinary clinic and at our weekly patient conferences. This allows us to best identify which patients require surgery urgently and which may benefit first from treatment with cutting-edge medications or nutritional therapies so that surgery may be less extensive or complicated.”

What can patients expect from this team?

Real Talk. The brain and the gut are in a constant, bidirectional conversation. Although the messages are largely utilitarian (“It’s time to use the bathroom,” or “that meal did not sit right with me”), sometimes the conversation goes a little deeper. Illness, emotional stress, or disruptions to the gut microbiome from medication or food can send signals that disrupt a person’s quality of life. When we are experiencing an imbalance within the brain-gut connection, symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain may occur. This is especially true in the setting of IBD.

“Chronic conditions can weigh on us mentally, physically, and spiritually,” Dr. Raskin said. “Surgery amplifies the stressfulness of living with a chronic disease. Fortunately, we have care counselors, nurse navigators and colleagues who focus on whole-person healing. Our job is to get our patients the help they need.”

Medical Excellence. Hoag’s subspecialists are renowned experts in their field, providing medical and state-of-the-art surgical options to help alleviate the most disabling symptoms of bowel disorders. They work alongside care specialists who help patients prepare for their surgeries and guide them through recovery.

“Our laparoscopic and robotic surgical capabilities are among the most advanced in the nation. There is a nuance to surgery for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that general surgeons don’t encounter as often,” Dr. Raskin said. “Our dieticians help patients improve their nutrition prior to surgery, as well as, during their hospital stay and throughout their rehabilitation.”

Whole-Person Care. Chronic digestive disorders take a toll on the rest of the body, and it is common for people living with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis to develop conditions outside the gastrointestinal tract. Called “extraintestinal manifestations,” these conditions include anemia, mouth sores, inflammation of the eyes or joints, osteoporosis, skin conditions, and liver conditions. Hoag’s program connects patients with the appropriate specialists in such fields as, rheumatology, dermatology, and hepatology, to treat the totality of a person’s condition – and then keeps working seamlessly as a team to ensure continuity of care.

“Our goal is to create strong lines of communication with a patient’s providers early on, prioritizing accountability to the patient and to their referring physicians,” Dr. Raskin said. “Developing these bonds make a patient’s health care journey easier to navigate. We recognize that IBD affects a person’s whole life, so we work to address their whole selves – mind, body and spirit.”

To learn more about the Hoag Margolis Family Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, visit