What is Colon Resection?
The colon is the large intestine. The colon and the rectum (bowel) function to store and expel processed food and waste. Colon resection or colectomy is the surgical removal of all or a part of the colon.
Colon resection is performed to prevent and treat various medical conditions associated with the colon, including colorectal cancer, polyps, intestinal injury, bleeding from the colon, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease or bowel obstruction. Preventive surgery can include the removal of polyps which could eventually cause cancer.
Routine tests such as blood tests, X-rays, MRI or CT-scan are usually performed to diagnose the disease. Your doctor will perform a complete physical examination to make sure you have no conditions which could negatively affect the surgical outcome.
Preparation for Surgery
Your doctor will order specific diagnostic tests before surgery. Inform your doctor of any medicines you are taking prior to surgery. Do not eat or drink for at least 6-8 hours prior to the procedure. Any other specific instructions will be provided by your doctor.
Laparoscopic Colon Resection
Laparoscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure that uses a laparoscope to diagnose and treat various disorders. A laparoscope is a thin fiber-optic device fitted with a camera and lens. Images from the camera are transmitted to a large monitor for your doctor to view the inside of your body.
- The surgery is performed under general anesthesia.
- Three to five small incisions are made in your abdomen.
- Gas is introduced into the abdomen to expand it for better visibility.
- The laparoscope is inserted.
- Images of the internal organs are visualized on a monitor.
- Special small surgical instruments are used to perform the surgery.
- Tumors or any abnormalities of your intestine may be removed depending on the medical condition.
- Your surgeon may need to convert to open surgery under certain circumstances such as excessive bleeding.
- Your surgeon performs internal stitches as necessary.
- The incisions are closed and bandaged.
In some cases, the resected part of your colon cannot be joined with the rectum and you will need a colostomy. An opening called a stoma is created by your surgeon on the outside of your abdomen, through which feces will pass, be collected into a colostomy bag.
Recovery after Surgery
After the surgery, your surgeon may recommend that you follow certain measures for a successful outcome:
- Retain the dressing over the incisions for the first few days.
- Keep the surgical area clean and dry.
- Use prescribed medicines or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to manage pain.
- Your surgeon may give you activity restrictions, such as not to lift heavy objects.
- You should maintain a healthy diet and are advised to start moving around safely as soon as possible.
- Regularly follow-up with your surgeon.
- Begin exercise under the guidance of your doctor.
When to Call a Doctor
Call your doctor if you experience symptoms including:
- Fever and chills
- Increased pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Leg pain
Complications of Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery
As with any surgery, complications can occur. The complications associated with colorectal surgery may include:
- Injury to uterus, bladder or blood vessels
- Formation of scar tissue
- Intestinal bleeding
- Incisional hernia (abnormal protrusion)
Advantages of Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery
Laparoscopic colon resection surgery has numerous advantages when compared to open surgery including:
- Surgical incisions are smaller
- Less pain after surgery
- Quick healing of scars
- A short stay at the hospital
- Quick return to drinking and eating
- Fast return to normal activities