General Surgery

General Surgery Overview

Dr. Robert Cooper is a board certified surgeon providing evaluation and treatment for a full complement of general surgery conditions. Services are available in a variety of locations for patient convenience, including the medical campus in Seymour, In and the southern office in New Albany, IN. Our staff works closely with other medical specialties to provide optimal patient care. Collaboration with referring physicians is essential to patient management.

Dr. Cooper performs a variety of procedures including, but not limited, to:

Appendectomy

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that projects from your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen. The appendix doesn’t seem to have a specific purpose.

An appendectomy is often done to remove the appendix when an infection has made it inflamed and swollen. The infection may occur when the opening of the appendix becomes clogged with bacteria and stool. This causes your appendix to become swollen and inflamed.

The easiest and quickest way to treat appendicitis is to remove the appendix. Your appendix could burst if appendicitis isn’t treated immediately and effectively. If the appendix ruptures, the bacteria and fecal particles within the organ can spread into your abdomen. This may lead to a serious infection called peritonitis. You can also develop an abscess if your appendix ruptures. Both are life-threatening situations that require immediate surgery.

Appendicitis causes pain in your lower right abdomen. However, in most people, pain begins around the navel and then moves. As inflammation worsens, appendicitis pain typically increases and eventually becomes severe.

Although anyone can develop appendicitis, most often it occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 30. Standard treatment is surgical removal of the appendix.

Appendectomy

Symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • stomach pain that starts suddenly near the belly button and spreads to the lower right side of the abdomen
  • abdominal swelling
  • rigid abdominal muscles
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • low-grade fever

Although pain from appendicitis typically occurs in the lower right side of the abdomen, pregnant women may have pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. This is because the appendix is higher during pregnancy.

Go to the emergency room immediately if you believe you have appendicitis. An appendectomy needs to be performed right away to prevent complications.

Colon

Colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine  (rectum and colon). Dr. Cooper uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look at the colon.

A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).

colonoscopy

The colonoscope is a thin, flexible tube that ranges from 48 in. (125 cm) to 72 in. (183 cm) long. A small video camera is attached to the colonoscope so that your doctor can take pictures or video of the large intestine (colon). The colonoscope can be used to look at the whole colon and the lower part of the small intestine. A test called sigmoidoscopy shows only the rectum and the lower part of the colon.

Early Detection Saves Lives

Colonoscopy is one of many tests that may be used to screen for colon cancer. Other tests include sigmoidoscopy, stool tests, and computed tomographic colonography. Which screening test you choose depends on your risk, your preference, and your doctor. Talk to your doctor about what puts you at risk and what test is best for you.

Why It Is Done

Colonoscopy is done to:

Before this test, you will need to clean out your colon (colon prep). Colon prep takes 1 to 2 days, depending on which type of prep your doctor recommends. Some preps may be taken the evening before the test. For many people, the prep is worse than the test.

The bowel prep may be uncomfortable, and you may feel hungry on the clear liquid diet. Plan to stay home during your prep time since you will need to use the bathroom often. The colon prep causes loose, frequent stools and diarrhea so that your colon will be empty for the test. If you need to drink a special solution as part of your prep, be sure to have clear fruit juices or soft drinks to drink after the prep because the solution may have a salty or unpleasant taste.

How To Prepare

Before you have a colonoscopy, tell your doctor if you:

  • Are taking any medicines, such as insulin or medicines for arthritis. Check with your doctor about which medicines you need to take on the day of your test.
  • Are allergic to any medicines, including anesthetics.
  • Have bleeding problems or take aspirin or other blood thinners.
  • Had an X-ray test using barium, such as a barium enema, in the last 4 days.
  • Are or might be pregnant.

You may be asked to stop taking aspirin products or iron supplements 7 to 14 days before the test. If you take blood-thinning medicines regularly, discuss with your doctor how to manage your medicine. You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

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Gallbladder

The surgical procedure to remove your gallbladder is known as a cholecystectomy — 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. The procedure 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.

A cholecystectomy may be necessary if you experience pain from gallstones that block the flow of bile. A 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.

In some cases, one large incision may be used to remove the gallbladder. This is called an open cholecystectomy.

A cholecystectomy is most commonly performed to treat gallstones and the complications they cause. Your doctor may recommend a cholecystectomy if you have:

  • Gallstones in the gallbladder (cholelithiasis)
  • Gallstones in the bile duct (choledocholithiasis)
  • Gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis)
  • Pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis) due to gallstones

Symptoms

Gallstones may cause no signs or symptoms. If a gallstone lodges in a duct and causes a blockage, the resulting signs and symptoms may include:

  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen
  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone
  • Back pain between your shoulder blades
  • Pain in your right shoulder
  • Nausea or vomiting

Gallstone pain may last several minutes to a few hours.

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.

Seek immediate care if you develop signs and symptoms of a serious gallstone complication, such as:

  • Abdominal pain so intense that you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position
  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes
  • High fever with chills

Hernia Repair

An inguinal hernia occurs when tissue, such as part of the intestine, protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles. The resulting bulge can be painful, especially when you cough, bend over or lift a heavy object.

An inguinal hernia isn’t necessarily dangerous. It doesn’t improve on its own, however, and can lead to life-threatening complications. Your doctor is likely to recommend surgery to fix an inguinal hernia that’s painful or enlarging. Inguinal hernia repair is a common surgical procedure.

Symptoms

Inguinal hernia signs and symptoms include:

  • A bulge in the area on either side of your pubic bone, which becomes more obvious when you’re upright, especially if you cough or strain
  • A burning or aching sensation at the bulge
  • Pain or discomfort in your groin, especially when bending over, coughing or lifting
  • A heavy or dragging sensation in your groin
  • Weakness or pressure in your groin
  • Occasionally, pain and swelling around the testicles when the protruding intestine descends into the scrotum

You should be able to gently push the hernia back into your abdomen when you’re lying down. If not, applying an ice pack to the area may reduce the swelling enough so that the hernia slides in easily. Lying with your pelvis higher than your head also may help.

Incarcerated hernia

If you aren’t able to push the hernia in, the contents of the hernia can be trapped (incarcerated) in the abdominal wall. An incarcerated hernia can become strangulated, which cuts off the blood flow to the tissue that’s trapped. A strangulated hernia can be life-threatening if it isn’t treated.

Signs and symptoms of a strangulated hernia include:

  • Nausea, vomiting or both
  • Fever
  • Sudden pain that quickly intensifies
  • A hernia bulge that turns red, purple or dark
  • Inability to move your bowels or pass gas If any of these signs or symptoms occurs, call your doctor right away.

Signs and symptoms in children

Inguinal hernias in newborns and children result from a weakness in the abdominal wall that’s present at birth. Sometimes the hernia will be visible only when an infant is crying, coughing or straining during a bowel movement. He or she might be irritable and have less appetite than usual.

In an older child, a hernia is likely to be more apparent when the child coughs, strains during a bowel movement or stands for a long period.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have a painful or noticeable bulge in your groin on either side of your pubic bone. The bulge is likely to be more noticeable when you’re standing, and you usually can feel it if you put your hand directly over the affected area. Seek immediate medical care if a hernia bulge turns red, purple or dark.

Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach pushes upward through your diaphragm.

Your diaphragm normally has a small opening (hiatus) through which your food tube (esophagus) passes connect to your stomach. The stomach can push up through this opening and cause a hiatal hernia.

In most cases, a small hiatal hernia doesn’t cause problems, and you may never know you have a hiatal hernia unless your doctor discovers it when checking for another condition.

But a large hiatal hernia can allow food and acid to back up into your esophagus, leading to heartburn. Self-care measures or medications can usually relieve these symptoms, although a very large hiatal hernia sometimes requires surgery.

Symptoms

Most small hiatal hernias cause no signs or symptoms. However, larger hiatal hernias can cause signs and symptoms such as:

  • Heartburn
  • Belching
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Feeling especially full after meals
  • Vomiting blood or passing black stools, which may indicate gastrointestinal bleeding

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any persistent signs or symptoms that worry you.