A colorectal resection is a surgery to remove a section of the large intestine. It is done to remove injured or diseased parts of the colon.
This surgery is performed to treat a variety of conditions, including the following:
Colorectal cancerDiverticular disease
—small pouches form in the wall of the colon
Inflammatory intestinal diseases (eg,
Intestinal blockageTrauma to the intestinePrecancerous polyps, especially those seen in familial polyposisA hole in the bowel wall or dead piece of bowelBleeding from the colon
For colon cancer, the goal is to remove all of the cancer. If you have a precancerous condition, then you may have prevented the development of cancer. If you had surgery due to other conditions, a successful operation will alleviate or improve your symptoms.
If you are planning to have a resection, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include: Damage to other organs or structuresInfectionBleedingHernia
at the incision site
Blood clotsComplications from general anesthesiaIntestinal obstruction due to development of scar tissue
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Having neurological, heart, or lung conditionsAge: older than 70 yearsObesitySmokingPrevious abdominal surgery or radiation therapyInfectionDiabetes
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Physical examBlood testsUltrasound
exam of the abdomen—a test that uses sound waves to visualize the inside of the abdomen
X-ray exam of the abdomen, after swallowing a barium drink and/or receiving a
barium enemaCT scan
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body
—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body
samples—visual exam and removal of tissue inside of the large intestine with a flexible tube that is attached to a light and a viewing device
Leading up to your procedure:
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
or other anti-inflammatory drugs
Blood thinners, such as
Drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of fluid daily.Your doctor may give you a special diet for several days before surgery.Wear comfortable clothing.Your colon must be completely cleaned out before the procedure. A number of cleansing methods may be used. This may include enemas, laxatives, and a clear-liquid diet. You may be asked to drink a large container of solution. It will aid in the complete emptying of the colon. This preparation may start several days before the procedure.Your doctor may give you antibiotics. It is important to take them.You will usually be asked to stay on clear liquids after the bowel is cleaned out. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight before your procedure.You may need to shower the night before your procedure using antibacterial soap.Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital.Arrange for help at home for the first days after your procedure.
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
The operation may be done either using a
or using standard open techniques. This description focuses on a standard open approach.
The doctor will make a cut in the skin over the area of intestine that needs to be removed. The cuts will pass through skin and muscle to reach the inside of the abdomen. The intestine will be clamped on either side of the piece that is to be removed. The intestine next to each clamp will be cut. The diseased portion of intestine will then be removed. The two loose ends of intestine will be sewn together. Some soft tubes may be left in the abdomen to drain any accumulating fluids.
If the procedure was done as an emergency, or if the doctor decides that the intestines need time to rest and heal, you may require a colostomy. In this procedure, an artificial opening will be created in your abdomen, called a stoma. One or both ends of the intestine will be attached to the stoma. This allows waste material (feces) to exit your intestine through the stoma. It collects in a pouch called an ostomy bag. A colostomy may be left in place for several months while your intestine heals.
When your intestine has healed properly, you will undergo another operation. The ends of the intestine will be rejoined. If the majority of your large intestine has been removed, you may require a permanent colostomy.
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The muscles and skin of the abdomen will be closed. Stitches or staples may be used. A sterile dressing will be applied. If you have a colostomy, an ostomy bag will be attached to collect feces.
The removed tissue will be sent to a lab to be examined. You will be moved to a recovery room. There, you will be monitored for any negative reactions to the surgery or anesthesia
The anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. Medicine may be given to help manage any pain after the procedure.
The usual length of stay is 5-7 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
You may need antibiotics. You may also need medicine for nausea and pain.You may require a nasogastric (NG) tube for a few days. The tube enters through your nose and goes to your stomach. It is used to help decompress your bowel.Your intestine will require some time to heal before it will function properly again. At first, you will get nutrition through an IV (needle in your hand). As you improve, you will be slowly advanced through liquid and soft diets to a regular diet.If you had a colostomy or ileostomy, a pouch will be attached on the outside of your body. Waste material will be collected in it.
You will receive instructions about diet and activity. During the first few days after surgery, you may be restricted from eating.You will wear boots or special socks to help prevent blood clots.You will be asked to walk often after surgery.You may be asked to use an incentive spirometer, to breathe deeply, and to cough frequently. This will improve lung function.Your incision will be examined often for signs of infection.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s
If you have a colostomy:
You will need to take it easy for 1-2 months.
A specialized nurse will teach you how to care for the stoma site and change the
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.You will progress from a clear liquid, to a bland, low-fiber diet, to your regular diet after about 6-8 weeks.Alert your physicians and pharmacist that you cannot take medicines that are considered time-released or time-sustained.Do not use laxatives, because postcolostomy stools are usually quite liquid.Drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of liquid daily as extra fluids will be lost in your stool.You will need to practice good skin care of the area around the stoma. This will help to prevent inflammation and infection.You may wish to join a support group or seek counseling to help you adjust to your colostomy.
If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, warmth, drainage, or bulging at the incision siteNausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery, or which persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospitalSevere abdominal painSigns of infection, including fever and chillsCough, shortness of breath, or chest painPain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legsPain, burning, urgency, frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urineBlood in your stool or black, tarry stoolsDiarrheaFeeling weak or dizzy
If you had a colostomy created:
Not collecting stool in the ostomy pouchThe skin around the stoma appears irritated, moist, red, swollen, or develops sores
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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