Vier Chirurgen am Operationstisch
More men than women undergo intestinal surgery in Germany. ©Antonio Diaz/Adobe Stock

Diarrhea, hemorrhoids, flatulences – although hardly anyone ever talks about it, many people suffer from digestion problems. According to a survey by the German Federal Statistical Office, more than 400,000 patients per year even have to undergo bowel surgery. Thus, bowel surgery is the most common surgical intervention in Germany.

When is intestinal surgery necessary?

In general, intestinal surgery is necessary, if the respective disease cannot be treated with a change of diet, medication intake or other measures. That is why before every operation, the patient has a detailed discussion with the attending physician. Sometimes it can be helpful to obtain an independent second opinion.

2 Examples

Polyps are benign growths of the intestinal mucosa which protrude into the interior of the intestine. When they degenerate and thus become malignant, a cancerous tumor forms. Therefore, polyps are sometimes surgically removed.

The situation is different in the case of a diverticulitis. Diverticula are pouches in the large and the small intestine. They mainly occur in the s-shaped curves of the large intestine (sigma). The doctor prescribes an antibiotic for diverticulitis. Surgery is only necessary if the patient suffers from persistent or recurrent pain.

Preparation and Surgery Procedure

Surgery is always necessary for colon cancer, colorectal carcinoma in technical terms. Colon cancer is caused by malignant tumors of the colon mucosa. Especially older people suffer from this disease. According to the guideline which doctors in Germany use as an orientation, there are currently two authorized surgical procedures for patients suffering from colon cancer.

In laparotomy, the surgeons open the abdomen with an incision and removes the cancer cells together with a surrounding rim of healthy tissue.

The other procedure is a minimally invasive technique, the so-called laparoscopy. The surgeon makes several small incisions through which he can introduce surgical devices, a camera and a light source into the abdomen. This surgical technique requires a lot of manual dexterity, hence it is only performed by very experienced surgeons.

In the weeks leading up to the operation, the surgeon and anesthetist hold clarifying discussions with the patient. The surgeon will direct the operation in the opearating room, the anesthetist is responsible for the narcosis.

In the days before the intervention, different preliminary examinations are carried out to exclude possible risks by anesthesia and surgery. On the day of the operation, the patient is not allowed to eat or drink anything several hours before the narcosis. The patient also often gets drugs on the evening before the surgery in order to have a better sleep.

3 Steps towards Intestinal Surgery

Surgery is followed by rehab

How long does it take to recover after intestinal surgery? The answer to this question is: it depends. Depending on the physical condition of the patient before surgery, whether the operation was a success and the part of the intestine that has been removed, the recovery period varies. Often, taking part in rehabilitation measures is appropriate after intestinal surgery.

In rehabilitation, every patient gets their own individual recovery program. They can make use of offers like physiotherapy, movement therapy, nutrition counselling and psychological support. The aim of the rehabilitation measures is to prepare them to quickly return to their employment. Elderly patients should reestablish their independence.

That’s how much patients pay

What does intestinal surgery cost in Germany? There is no general answer to this question either because the treatment costs are determined individually. However, there is a catalogue which includes the costs of the different procedures, the so-called flat rate catalogue. When the accountants in a clinic invoice treatment costs, they use this catalogue as orientation.

Costs of intestinal surgery for different diseases*

Important: The above-mentioned costs only include the operation. Biopsies, endoscopies and other preliminary examinations are charged separately. The rehabilitation measures after surgery are not included either in the prices presented above. Patients from abroad should also consider that further costs for the translation, document review and the organization of the stay abroad occur. In general, treatment in Germany is less expensive than in other industrial nations such as the United States of America, as shown by this sample calculation.

If you are planning to receive treatment in Germany, you can contact the International Office of the respective clinic. There are often multilingual employees who can help you.