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Colon Resection

A colon resection is a surgical operation involving removal of a particular section or the entire colon (which is also referred to as the large intestine).  The procedure can be quite complicated and a number of reasons exist for the necessity of a resection.

Reasons for Resection

A colon resection is generally performed in response to a specific problem, some of the most common being:

  • Abscesses
  • Bleeding arteriovenous malformations
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Colon Cancer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Fistulas
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intestinal polyps
  • Strictures
  • Volvulus or twists

Because problems with the colon are fairly common, approximately one million colon resection procedures are performed in the United States every year.

The Procedure for Resecting the Colon

During a resection, it is necessary to remove all diseased parts of the colon. After the damaged section is removed, the two remaining ends of healthy colon must then be reconnected. This aspect of the colon resection is referred to as end-to-end anastomosis.

In some cases, the extent of damage to the colon is so severe an end-to-end anastomosis is not a viable option. Sometimes, the location of the diseased area may prevent two useable parts of the colon from being available. In these cases, a colostomy may be necessary. A temporary colostomy may also be performed in order to give the colon time to heal, and later the surgeon will perform the anastomosis procedure.

Comparing an Open Colon Resection to the Laparoscopic Resection

When it comes to a resection, the surgeon may perform either open surgery or laparoscopic surgery. Open surgery is the most common method for performing a colon resection. With this procedure, the surgeon performs the resection while the patient is under general anesthesia. The abdomen is then cleansed with antiseptic and a catheter is usually inserted into the bladder. This way, the medical staff can monitor the patient’s urine output and ensure he or she is well hydrated.

After rendering the patient unconscious with anesthesia an incision is made to allow access to the diseased section of the colon. The surgeon seals the colon on either side of the diseased section and then removes it. The surgeon either staples or sutures the severed ends together. The entire procedure usually takes at least three hours, though times may vary if complications arise.

The laparoscopic resection procedure is newer and is growing in popularity. With this method, incisions are made for inserting the laparoscope, which is a tiny, telescopic video camera. The necessary cutting instruments are also inserted via this conduit for cutting away the diseased section of the colon.

The laparoscopic colon resection procedure has a number of advantages over open resection surgery. First, the procedure usually takes only two to three hours. Additionally, the colon returns to normal functioning in less time, it requires a shorter hospital stay, patients usually experience less pain, and it results in a smaller scar.

Effects of the Resection

Following an open resection, most patients remain in the hospital about five to seven days following the surgery. After the laparoscopic resection, the hospital stay is usually about three to five days. In either case, most patients prefer to have someone drive them home after discharge as some pain and discomfort may still persist.

As with any surgery, a colon resection involves some measure of risk including: infection, bleeding, or complications related to anesthesia.  In addition, damage may occur to nearby organs. These organs typically include the spleen, the ureter, and the bowel.

Following surgery, patients should be alert for and should report to the doctor if experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Drainage from the incision
  • Fever
  • Pain that worsens
  • Redness or swelling in the area around the incision
  • Unusual warmth in the area around the incision

Regardless of the colon resection procedure used, patients will likely experience scarring.  If it is performed laparoscopically, the scars will be small and may not even be noticeable. With open surgery, however, the scar will be much larger.

Some patients can return to work within a few weeks following resection surgery. Other people prefer to wait longer. In either case, heavy lifting should be avoided for six to eight weeks after open surgery.  Many patients return to their normal daily activities, such as walking up stairs, driving, showering, and light lifting within a couple of weeks.  The amount of time it takes to return to these activities depends on the patient and his or her level of comfort. Be sure to consult with a qualified physician specializing in resection procedures before deciding upon either of these methods. As always, don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion before committing to any course of action involving surgery.1

1 Although the medical profession states drugs and/or surgery are the only options for this condition, the Editors of this website believe effective natural methods such as eating only organic foods, taking all-natural health supplements, and improving lifestyle habits can help you alleviate symptoms and achieve optimal health.

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