Have you heard? Part of your digestive system is as long as you are tall! Most people know the intestines are quite long but many people aren’t sure what the colon does or why anyone might need colon surgery when something goes wrong.
The colon’s job is to remove water and salt from waste and return them to the body. What remains afterwards forms the stool. After this, the colon stores waste until the body eliminates it.
Sometimes, however, we experience problems with the colon. Over 500,000 surgeries are performed every year in the United States to treat diseases and conditions of the colon. What sort of signs and symptoms might indicate colon surgery is needed? Although a small number of people don’t notice any signs, often a person will experience one or more of these symptoms:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Unexplained fatigue
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Distension of the abdomen
- Blood or tarry stools
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal or rectal pain
Do I Need Surgery?
One common reason for people to need surgery on the colon is the development of colon polyps. Polyps are tissue growths on the inside of the colon wall. Although they may not be cancerous, if left untreated, polyps are likely to become cancerous.
Diverticulosis is a condition causing small sacs or pouches to form and protrude from the lining of the colon. When the polyps become inflamed, the condition is known as Diverticulitis. Most of the time, medications can treat this problem but if an obstruction or bleeding exists, colon surgery may be necessary.
Cancer is another disease that may require surgical intervention. Left untreated, cancer could easily spread to the lymphatic system, and from there cancer can spread virtually unchecked from organ to organ.
Types Of Colon Surgery
As stated, the colon can be between 5 and 6 feet long, so removing a small portion of the colon won’t cause it to function improperly. The remaining colon will continue to get the job done.
Before surgery, the patient will have to prepare his or her colon with a thorough cleansing. Usually the day before surgery, laxatives are administered. Thereafter, only liquids will be permitted for consumption, and then only until the night before the surgery.
Colorectomy is the name of the procedure involving removal of the unhealthy sections of the colon. Once the diseased portion of the colon is removed, the remaining ends of the colon are then reattached—this is known as anastomosis.
Colon surgery can be performed through open surgery, wherein the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen or it can also be performed utilizing a laparoscope. Laparoscopic surgery involves the surgeon making about four or five small incisions. The surgeon then guides the laparoscope (a tiny telescopic instrument with a video camera attached to it) through one of those incisions. The other incisions are for instruments the surgeon may use to remove the affected parts of the colon.
Laparoscopic surgery is a fairly new technique, and is becoming popular because of its many advantages over open surgery. These advantages include:
- Faster normalization of the colon’s functioning
- Quicker recovery time
- Shorter hospital stay
- Patients report experiencing less pain
- Patients return to normal routines sooner
- Less scarring
Depending on the type of procedure used for the Colorectomy, colon surgery can take from 2 to 3 hours on average. Laparoscopic surgery times are shorter due to the smaller incisions, which in turn require less suturing time. Also, depending on where the diseased portion of the colon is located, reattaching the colon may not be an option and a colostomy becomes necessary.
A colostomy is an opening for the intestinal waste to pass from the colon to outside the abdomen. Part of the intestine is brought through the abdominal wall and sewn to the skin. A colostomy can be permanent or temporary. Sometimes having a colostomy gives the colon time to heal and rejoining the sections is possible at a later date.
If you have a colostomy, you’ll be shown how to care for it before you leave the hospital. Patients are usually prescribed antibiotics, which may be given even a few days before the surgery to help reduce the chance of infection developing.
Your doctor will instruct you likewise regarding diet, but usually patients can return to their normal foods following the procedure. Patients can usually resume their normal routines in a matter of weeks after undergoing colon 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.