Health Care

When It Can’t Wait: 3 Common Reasons People Need Surgery

A surgical staff of three people performing a surgery in an operating room.

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Surgery isn’t something anyone looks forward to, but there are times when it can’t be avoided as a lifesaving measure or a way to improve someone’s quality of life. We’re here, with our general surgeon, Diya K. Alnajjar, MD, to educate on three of the most common instances when surgery can’t be put on hold.


Appendicitis is a serious medical condition that can become deadly if it's left untreated. “Never try to wait out the pain,” advises Dr. Alnajjar. “In fact, you should call 911 or have someone drive you to your nearest AdventHealth emergency room. You’ll need to be diagnosed and treated right away to prevent life-threatening complications like a rupture.”

With appendicitis, you’ll need quick access to comprehensive tests to get an accurate diagnosis, including:

  • Abdominal ultrasound to view your appendix
  • Blood tests to check for high white blood cell counts (a sign of infection)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan to get an in-depth look at your abdomen
  • Lower gastrointestinal series (barium enema) to see your small intestine through X-ray images
  • Urine tests to rule out a urinary tract infection

Symptoms of appendicitis include the following:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • A low-grade fever
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain that starts near your navel and moves
  • Right-sided pain in your lower abdomen

The longer you let appendicitis go without treatment, the worse the pain becomes and may be severe. If your appendix ruptures, it can be deadly. If you notice these symptoms, get help right away before it gets worse. If you are diagnosed with appendicitis, your appendix will be removed via surgery (appendectomy).

Gallbladder Problems

“Pain in the upper right abdomen might be an early sign of a gallbladder problem. If your pain gets worse and other symptoms occur, such as jaundice, you may need to have your gallbladder surgically removed,” Dr. Alnajjar explains.

The gallbladder is a small organ located underneath the liver in the upper right of the abdomen. The body uses it as a pouch for storing bile. The liver produces bile to help the body break down dietary fats.

You can develop painful gallstones in your gallbladder from an imbalance in the substances the liver uses to make bile.

The gallbladder isn’t essential for survival, so your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder (cholecystectomy) if you experience symptoms such as pain or infection.

Signs you might have a gallbladder problem include:

  • Bloating
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nausea
  • Sharp pain in the right upper abdomen

Go to the ER if you experience severe gallbladder symptoms such as worsening pain when taking a deep breath, high fever, persistent pain that doesn’t go away, nausea and vomiting. These could be signs of serious complications such as acute cholecystitis or acute pancreatitis.


A hernia occurs when an area of weakened muscle tears, usually in the abdomen. This allows part of an internal organ or tissue to bulge through. Depending on the hernia’s location and size, you may be able to see the bulge.

Types of hernias include:

  • Inguinal hernia: happens in the groin area and affects men more than women
  • Umbilical hernia: happens near the navel
  • Incisional hernia: happens after surgery when part of an organ pushes through the scar area
  • Hiatal hernia: happens in the upper part of the stomach and can push through the diaphragm
  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia: a rare birth condition that happens when a baby’s diaphragm isn’t completely formed, which allows the stomach and other organs to move into the chest cavity

Symptoms of a hernia can vary depending on the type and location, but generally include:

  • Cough, heartburn or difficulty swallowing
  • Pressure in the hernia’s location
  • Visible bulging or a lump you can feel

“You should see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. If you have a hernia that becomes soft or can’t be pushed back in, or if you have sudden pain, constipation, nausea or vomiting, go to the emergency room. These symptoms could mean you have a strangulated hernia, a life-threatening condition,” advises Dr. Alnajjar.

Your provider may discuss surgical options to treat your hernia. Procedures with smaller incisions and a shorter recovery time are typically used. Babies with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia may also need surgery soon after birth. Your provider will work closely with you to discuss the treatment approach that’s right for you or your child.

When Life Happens, We’re Here to Mend You Back to Whole Health

As the adage goes, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” If your health takes an unexpected turn and you need surgery, our esteemed surgical experts are here to help, blending world-class surgical technology with leading-edge care and award-winning hospitals to heal what’s hurting — in body, mind and spirit.

Request an appointment with Dr. Alnajjar or our surgical team to learn how you can experience whole-person healing. Or call Call407-543-4670 for more information.

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