Colectomy is a surgical procedure done to remove all or part of the colon. The aim of this surgery is to remove diseased sections of your large intestine. The large intestine is also known as the large bowel or the colon.

During this surgery, your doctor removes the diseased parts of your colon and then reconnects the healthy parts. Your doctor may perform a colostomy if there’s not enough healthy intestine after surgery.

Why do I need a Colectomy?

A colectomy may be necessary to treat conditions such as:

  • Colon cancer
  • Intestinal blockages caused by scar tissue or tumours.
  • Diverticulitis, which is a disease of the large intestine.
  • Precancerous polyps
  • Infection
  • Bleeding in the intestines
  • Volvulus, which is an abnormal twisting of the bowel.
  • Ulcerative colitis, which is a type of bowel inflammation.
  • Intussusception, which occurs when one part of your intestine slides into another part of your intestine.

Risks associated with Colectomy

All types of surgery have some risks. These risks can include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Heart attack or stroke.
  • Blood clots
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Pneumonia
  • Damage to nearby structures.

The risks that are specific to colectomy include:

  • Bleeding inside the abdomen.
  • An incisional hernia, which happens when tissue comes through the surgical cut.
  • Damage to the bladder or nearby organs.
  • Scar tissue
  • Dehiscence, which is an opening of a surgical wound.
  • Problems with the colostomy such as skin irritation.

There are also risks associated with general anesthesia such as reactions to medication and breathing difficulties.

How do I prepare for a colectomy?

At least two weeks before surgery, inform your doctor about all the medications you’re taking, including supplements such as vitamins and herbs. You should also tell them about any recent illnesses including any colds, flu, or herpes breakouts.

Before the surgical procedure, your doctor may need you to:

  • Stop taking blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen or warfarin.
  • Stop smoking
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat foods high in fibre

A few days before you have a colectomy, you may need to:

  • Take laxatives to help you empty your bowels.
  • Have an enema to clear your colon.
  • Drink only clear liquids like water, clear juice and broth.

On the day of the surgical procedure, follow your doctor’s instructions. You may need to refrain from eating or drinking anything for 12 hours prior to the surgery.

How is a colectomy performed?

You’ll receive general anaesthesia before the surgery starts. This will keep you asleep during the surgical procedure. It will also keep you from feeling pain. Your doctor may do a laparoscopic or open colectomy.

In a laparoscopic colectomy, your doctor uses a camera to get a clear view of your intestines. The surgery is done through a series of small incisions. It’s less invasive than open surgery.

In an open colectomy, your doctor makes a large incision in your abdomen to see the bowel directly.

The basic structure of both surgical procedures is the same. The doctor accesses your bowel using one or more incisions and takes out the diseased or damaged bowel. The remaining bowel is stapled or sewn together. This is known as an anastomosis. Your doctor will also perform a colostomy if needed. They’ll then stitch the incision. In some cases, your doctor may also need to remove other organs during the surgery.

What happens after a colectomy?

You’ll normally stay in the hospital for three to seven days. You may need to stay in the hospital longer if you develop complications. You may also need to stay longer if you have a more serious underlying health problem.

You’ll have to follow specific instructions about how to eat after the surgical procedure. You’re normally able to drink clear liquids by the second or third day. As you heal, you’ll be able to take thicker fluids and eat soft foods. A full recovery may take about two months.

What is the long-term outlook?

Most people who have colectomy make a full recovery. You may have to use a colostomy bag temporarily. You may also need a permanent colostomy. A colostomy doesn’t usually stop you from doing the activities you enjoy.

You may need constant medical care if you have a chronic bowel condition, such as cancer, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.


DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorised in writing by

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