Colorectal surgery is used to treat certain conditions of the colon, anus and rectum that have not responded to other, more conservative measures such as medications or lifestyle changes. At Advanced Surgical Associates, the procedure that we perform most often is the colectomy, involving the removal of part of the large intestine.
What is A Colectomy?
The colectomy is a procedure that resects (or removes) some part of the large intestine, also called the colon. Colectomies are indicated for certain forms of colon cancer as well as severe cases of other diseases such as diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and injury to the large intestine. Oftentimes, when the procedure is not an emergency, a patient will have time to speak to their surgeon about their options, as there are considerations that should be discussed.
How is a Colectomy Performed?
A colectomy has traditionally been performed with a single large incision, known as open surgery. Modern techniques and medical devices have made it possible, however, to reach the affected area via minimally invasive techniques. This allows for significantly reduced recovery times, blood loss and pain after surgery. Not all patients will qualify for the laparoscopic approach and a consultation with your surgeon is required.
Once the colon is resected, there are two common results. First, the large intestine can be reattached minus the portion of the colon that was removed. During this procedure, the two healthy ends of the small intestine are attached using a special stapling device. The large intestine continues to perform much as it did before the surgery, however there is a risk of the sutures or staples leaking, which can cause sepsis in the abdomen requiring emergency care.
In some cases, the patient’s condition will require a colostomy. Possible reasons can include the type and severity of the disease or blockage. A colostomy is performed by taking the end of the large intestine, routing it through the intestinal wall and attaching it to the abdominal skin. Feces must be expelled into a colostomy bag or irrigated on a regular basis. The colostomy can either be temporary or permanent, depending on the individual circumstance.
Risks and Considerations of a Colectomy
There are inherent risks of a colectomy as there are with any surgical procedure. Patients undergoing any surgery may face the risks of general anesthesia, infection, blood clots, bleeding and other surgical complications. There are also procedure specific risks including obstruction of the bowel, staple line or suture leaks and injury to surrounding organs in the body.