Colon Surgery / Colectomy
A colectomy involves the partial or complete removal of the colon. In many cases, colectomy is a curative surgical procedure for diseases of the large intestine including diverticulitis and colon cancer. Modern surgical technology has allowed virtually every colectomy to be performed in a minimally invasive or laparoscopic manner. This means that 4 or 5 small incisions are made in the abdomen through which specially made surgical tools are passed. These long-handled tools combined with a high definition camera allow our surgeons to see the entire surgical field from within the abdomen. This approach reduces recovery time, reduces the chances of an incisional hernia and lowers the risk of pain, blood loss and infection.
Modern advances in surgical technology have allowed us to perform surgery using robotic assistance, which allows for better visualization of the surgical field, improved dexterity and the ability to perform complex surgeries laparoscopically.
How the Colectomy Works
After a thorough diagnosis, your surgeon will identify the diseased portion of the colon or large intestine. Patients will follow a strict preoperative diet to ensure that no fecal matter remains in the colon. During surgery, the patient is placed under general anesthesia and the abdomen is inflated using carbon dioxide gas. During surgery, the diseased length of colon is divided and removed from the abdominal cavity. A small amount of healthy colon is removed on either end to ensure that no diseased tissue is left behind.
The two healthy ends of the colon are then reattached. This connection is known as anastomosis.
The entire procedure takes between 60 and 90 minutes depending on the condition being treated. Patients will have a strict aftercare program to allow the colon to heal after surgery. Patients will receive a comprehensive postoperative care packet, which they must follow closely for best results. The typical hospital stay is approximately 1 to 2 nights depending on the procedure.
A Note on Colostomies
When patients hear that they require colon surgery, their first and biggest concern is whether they will require a colostomy. Colostomy bags are external pouches that collect feces in cases where colonic reattachment or anastomosis is not possible during the primary procedure.
In many cases, the earlier the disease is detected and treated, the lower the risk requiring a permanent colostomy. However, with advances in technology, the colostomy is rarely necessary. If a colostomy is necessary after the first surgery, our surgeons are often able create the colonic anastomosis during a second procedure and reverse the colostomy. Advanced cases of colon disease and generally unhealthy patients are more likely to require a colostomy.
Risks and considerations of a colectomy
A colectomy has become a routine colorectal surgical procedure, however it is still major abdominal surgery that comes with risk. These risks can include pain, blood loss, infection and in very rare cases death. Surgical risk can be mitigated by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and by choosing a very experienced colorectal surgeon such as those at our practice.