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Monday, November 17, 2014

Think Twice Before Undergoing the Knife -- Consider Alternatives to These Dangerous Surgeries

All surgeries carry some level of risk. Even those that are considered relatively safe cannot guarantee how any one person's body is going to react to the trauma of surgery. In addition, some surgeries are not necessary, meaning there are other alternatives to consider before going under the knife. What are those?

Consider the alternatives

According to an article in AARP Magazine, there are some surgeries that are so routinely performed that patients may not even be aware that they may not be necessary. They do not consider the fact that there may be alternative treatments that are safer. Here are some examples:

#1 - Angioplasty - this is where the surgeon uses stents to unclog arteries, and about 1.2 million of these are performed in the U.S. every year. The stent keeps the arteries open but does not necessarily prevent you from having a heart attack. Patients who are stable may have the option of using heart medication to keep their arteries open. This option can be explored with your physician.

#2 - Back surgery - or spinal fusion, is a common surgery used to fuse vertebrae together in order to stop back pain. According to orthopedist Arnold Weil of Non-Surgical Orthopaedics in Marietta, Georgia, “Probably less than 5 percent of all back pain requires surgery.” Alternatives include physical therapy, acupuncture and medication.

#3 - Hysterectomy - is often used to remove benign fibroids and painful endometriosis tissue by removing the uterus. But a study at the University of California, Los Angeles showed that this surgery can raise health risks for women and should only be used on women who have a very high risk of ovarian cancer. New, less invasive treatments include using sound waves to shave tumor tissue, using ultrasound to treat fibroids, and other treatments to shrink fibroids and tumors.

Ask your doctor

So, before you go under the knife, make sure you discuss alternatives with your doctor to see if you are a candidate for other, non-surgical treatments. If necessary, get a second opinion.

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