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Colerectal surgery

Diagnosis and treatment for bowel conditions

With rapid diagnosis and fast access to treatment, Woodlands is the right choice for treating bowel problems in patients based in Darlington, County Durham or North Yorkshire. Our colorectal consultants at Woodlands deal with any concerns related to the lower gastrointestinal tract, which is made up of the bowel, abdomen, rectum and anus. You should consider booking an appointment with one of our consultants if you have been experiencing any of the following common symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Rectal pain
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Significant weight loss

These symptoms can often overlap, and can be related to a number of different bowel conditions. Alongside feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable, they can seriously get you down, contributing to anxiety and low self-esteem.

When these symptoms start to interfere with your normal daily routine, you’ll want treatment fast, and a clear route to recovery.

For an accurate diagnosis from one of our experienced consultants, why not book an appointment today? Our consultants can get you on the right track with a personalised treatment plan to help bring you relief without delay.

Conditions affecting the lower gastrointestinal tract include:

  • Polyps (raised fleshy areas of the bowel)
  • Haemorrhoids/piles
  • Bowel cancer
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Crohn’s Disease (a chronic condition of the bowel)
  • Fissures (a skin tear of the anus)
  • Fistula (a small channel that develops in the anal canal)
  • Diverticulitis

Our consultants have a wide array of expertise in treating these conditions, and many patients won’t require surgery in order to recover. Certain changes to lifestyle may be advised, ensuring you have a balanced diet and exercise regime. Reducing stress can sometimes help alleviate symptoms too.

Bowel cancer tends to be referred to our fantastic Oncology team, who can get you started on the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

Inflammatory bowel conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease are often managed with medication, which can be prescribed by your consultant and picked up at our dedicated on-site pharmacy (open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm). Serious cases may need surgery to remove part of the affected bowel, but this is usually a last resort.

Fissures and fistulas are small and painful conditions of the anus, often requiring surgery, although fissures can sometimes recover with ointments and medication. Depending on the severity of the condition, some can be rectified during diagnostic procedures, such as polyps during a colonoscopy, as detailed below.

Your consultant will take a detailed medical history and will ask about the various symptoms you have been experiencing in order to establish the best way forward. They will most likely want to know:

  • What symptoms have you been experiencing?
  • How long have you had these symptoms?
  • Can you describe the pain? Is it a stabbing pain or is it more constant?
  • Have your symptoms become progressively worse?

They will also perform a physical examination, looking at any physical symptoms you have described, and then outline any necessary scans or tests that may be useful in making a diagnosis.

Typically, your consultant will want to investigate the bowel if you have been experiencing rectal bleeding or a change in bowel habits. This is done as an endoscopic procedure, where a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera attached to one end is passed into the body to allow your consultant to visualise and assess the affected organs. Two types of endoscopic tests are normally used in diagnosis:

Colonoscopy enables your consultant to visualise the whole of the bowel, and the endoscope is introduced via the anus. This is normally done under a mild sedation, so patients will need someone to bring them and take them home again afterwards. Bowel preparation is required beforehand, usually in the form of a strong laxative the day before your procedure, and this can be discussed at your initial consultation.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is a more straightforward procedure which looks at the left side of the bowel, and is specifically used for patients who have been experiencing rectal bleeding. Patients can normally get themselves here and back on their own without concern. Again, the endoscope is passed through the anus to allow your consultant to see the lower part of your bowel. This is especially effective in looking at haemorrhoids/piles, and these can often be treated at the same time by applying some rubber bands to the piles so they shrivel up and fall off.

As well as locating the source of your symptoms, these procedures help to rule out other more serious concerns, such as bowel cancer.

Your consultant will see you again after the procedure to talk about the diagnosis if it is clear, or make plans for further diagnostic tests and next steps if not. In the case of something simple like piles, your consultant will discuss a definitive procedure with you to sort them out.

Ultrasound and MRI scanners are available at our on-site Imaging Unit, should they be needed. Patients suffering from fistulas sometimes require an MRI, and our Radiology team can work in tandem with our colorectal consultants to make an accurate diagnosis.

Whatever your condition, your consultant will produce an informed treatment plan, personalised for your needs.

  • Assessments ASAP – If you’ve got to the point where you are considering medical intervention for your bowel condition, you won’t want to wait for an appointment. By seeing patients rapidly, our consultants can accurately diagnose you and get you started on the right course of treatment as soon as possible.
  • Patient satisfaction – 98.2% of other patients in 2019 said they would happily recommend Woodlands Hospital to friends and family in an independent report, and we’re confident that you’ll agree. 98.3% also said that the quality of care here at Woodlands Hospital was either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. We aim to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible, and these results highlight our continued efforts to ensure this is achieved.
  • Personalised care – We believe in a bespoke approach to treatment, tailoring each experience to our patients’ needs and whatever may be best for you. This is regularly reviewed, ensuring you get the necessary treatment at every stage of your patient journey.
  • A multidisciplinary approach – Our teams at Woodlands work in tandem with each other to provide you with the best possible care from start to finish. Working closely with specialists in Rheumatology, Gynaecology and Urology, as well as a dedicated team of radiographers, physiotherapists, anaesthetists, and nurses, you have support from medical professionals every step of the way during your treatment.
  • Convenient appointments – With appointments available between 10am and 8.30pm Monday-Saturday, you are sure to find an appointment slot that suits your needs and availability.
  • Park with ease – We know that parking should be the least of your worries when attending hospital, so our car park has ample space to accommodate your needs. Alternatively, we are a short taxi ride from Darlington Railway Station, should you wish to visit us by train.

If you have a pre-existing bowel condition that needs managing, like Crohn’s Disease, or you’ve experienced symptoms such as abdominal pains and a change in bowel habits, call our friendly reception team today to book a consultation. Our consultants can organise the necessary diagnostic tests to investigate your symptoms, and outline all treatment options for you promptly, arranging any further scans or surgery if required. For peace of mind and expert care, please contact Woodlands to book an appointment now.

Specialists Offering Colerectal surgery

Mr Keith Gunning

Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon

MB BS (Newcastle upon Tyne 1986) FRCSEd(Gen Surg) 1991

BMI Woodlands Hospital

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