What replacement lenses should I chose after cataract surgery?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm having cataract surgery in a few weeks. There are so many options for replacement lenses. Which one should I choose?

DEAR READER: I can't tell you which you should choose, since I don't know the specifics of your cataract. But I can suggest how you should think about several options that your ophthalmologist is likely to discuss with you.

Can you explain what will happen during LASIK eye surgery?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've just scheduled LASIK surgery. Can you explain what will happen during the procedure?

DEAR READER: To understand LASIK surgery, you first need to know a few things about the eye and what it does. Basically, your eye is like a camera: It focuses the light coming into it to make a sharp image. That image then is captured on a kind of film (or, in digital cameras, a sensor).

Do I need surgery for an inguinal hernia?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have an inguinal hernia. Do I need to have it repaired? If so, what will the procedure involve?

DEAR READER: An inguinal hernia occurs when part of the intestine bulges through a weak spot in the abdominal wall, near the groin. The bulge can be small or large.

How does lumpectomy plus radiation compare to mastectomy for treating breast cancer?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I was recently diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. My doctor wants me to consider a lumpectomy plus radiation. But wouldn't a mastectomy be more effective?

DEAR READER: In a lumpectomy, just the cancer and tissue immediately around it are removed, and radiation therapy is used to kill any nearby cancer cells that might not have been removed. In a mastectomy, the whole breast is removed. Since sometimes breast cancer cells (invisible to the eye of the surgeon) can spread into the surrounding breast, it's plausible to think that a mastectomy might have a better cure rate than just a lumpectomy.

What happens during aortic valve replacement surgery?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have aortic valve regurgitation and need to have my aortic valve replaced. What will happen during this procedure?

DEAR READER: When it's working properly, your aortic valve opens to allow oxygen-rich blood to flow from your heart into your aorta and out to the rest of your body. The aorta is the body's largest blood vessel.

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Every time my husband has abdominal pain, he worries that it's appendicitis. Can you tell me the actual symptoms so I can assure him he's fine?

DEAR READER: Many different conditions can cause abdominal pain. The cause of most abdominal pain is a temporary and simple disorder, such as a pocket of gas trapped in the intestine, or stomach acid causing heartburn. But serious conditions also cause abdominal pain, and appendicitis is one of the most common of those serious conditions. It affects one in every 500 people in the United States each year.

What is a wrist replacement?

DEAR DOCTOR K: We've all heard of hip and knee replacements -- but is it true that you can have your wrist replaced too?

DEAR READER: We like to think of ourselves as irreplaceable, but the truth is that some of our parts are replaceable. The joint replacements you hear most about are those of the knees and hips, but surgeons also have been replacing hand joints for decades.

What happens during gallbladder removal surgery?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My doctor says my stomach pains are caused by gallstones and I need surgery to remove them. Can you describe the surgery?

DEAR READER: Gallstones are small, hard clumps of cholesterol, calcium and various proteins. They form inside the gallbladder, a pouch that collects bile (a fluid containing cholesterol and bile salts that helps with digestion). Bile flows from the liver to the intestine through the bile ducts. When there is too much cholesterol relative to bile salts, the liquid bile hardens into stones.

Do I need surgery for a torn ACL?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I tore my ACL. Is surgery inevitable?

DEAR READER: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a band of tissue that runs through the middle of the knee joint and keeps the shinbone from sliding forward past the thighbone. The ACL can tear during a sudden or awkward twist, turn or stop. More often than not, it's these non-contact injuries that injure an ACL. Between 100,000 and 200,000 ACL injuries occur each year in the United States.

What is hip resurfacing?

DEAR DOCTOR K: You recently discussed hip replacement in your column. Shouldn’t the option of hip resurfacing have been part of the discussion? DEAR READER: In the column you’re referring to, a reader in his 50s asked how to time his hip replacement. I advised him to find a balance: “Operate too soon, and you’ll […]