What is a colon resection?
A colon resection is a surgical procedure to remove either part of or all of colon, or large intestine. When the whole colon is removed, the operation is also known as a colectomy. A colon resection is performed to treat or prevent the spread of certain diseases of the colon.
When is a colon resection necessary?
Colon resection surgery may become necessary when the colon is so damaged that part or all of it has to be removed. This damage may occur as part of certain genetic conditions or as a result of one of the following conditions:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Bowel obstruction
- Colorectal cancer
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Injury to the colon or rectum
- Fistula, an abnormal connection between organs
What happens during colon resection surgery?
Colon resections are performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. The surgery may be performed either laparoscopically or as an open procedure. In either case, the diseased portion of the colon is removed and the ends of healthy intestine are sewn back together. In more extensive operations it may be necessary for the surgeon to perform a colostomy.
What is a colostomy and why is it sometimes necessary?
In certain cases, it is necessary to allow the colon to heal before reattachment takes place. In such instances an opening, called a stoma, is made through the abdominal wall into the remaining tissues at the upper end of the colon and a bag is fitted around the opening to collect intestinal waste.
What is recovery like after a colon resection?
After a colon resection the patient will remain hospitalized for a few days to a week and will need several weeks at home to fully recover. The length of recovery time will depend on the patient’s overall health and the type of procedure performed. While recovery time is a good deal short after a laparoscopy operation, this surgery is not appropriate in every case. Whichever surgical procedure is performed, patients will have to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting until fully recovered.
Are patients able to eat normally after a colon resection?
Yes, but after a colon resection returning to a normal diet will be gradual. During this period, the patient may receive intravenous fluids. Once food is reintroduced, the patient will be on a liquid diet, then a soft diet and finally a low residue diet to ensure that stools are smaller than usual. As the patient begins eating normally, bowel function will return.
Will further surgery be required?
If a colostomy has been performed as a temporary measure, surgery may be required at a later time to remove the colostomy bag and reattach the necessary parts of the colon. If the patient has an underlying disease, disease progression will determine the course of treatment and whether any further surgeries will be necessary.
Can patients live a normal life after a colon resection?
Yes, most patients have a successful colon resection procedure and go on to live full and comfortable lives. If there is an underlying disease, of course, continuing treatment may be necessary.
What are the risks of a colon resection?
There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. These may include the following:
- Excessive bleeding
- Deep vein thrombosis or blood clots
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia or medications
- Post-surgical infection
- Damage to adjacent organs
- Breathing problems
- Incisional hernia