Colon and Rectal Surgery
The colon and rectum are the last parts of the digestive tract. The colon, or large intestine, is a long organ shaped like a tube. Its job is to push partially digested food through, removing water, nutrients and electrolytes. What remains in the colon is called stool and is stored in the rectum, leaving the body through the anus. Colorectal surgery may be necessary to treat a wide range of conditions, some of which are life-threatening, while others are merely an annoyance. Many of these issues have symptoms that resemble each other, and early treatment can significantly improve outcomes and survival rates. That’s why it is important to seek early treatment, even if you are uncomfortable or embarrassed to discuss the symptoms.
Colorectal surgery can be performed to treat colorectal cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, hemorrhoids, anal fissure and bowel incontinence. Generally, the day before bowel surgery, a bowel preparation is necessary. This involves taking a medication to clear out the bowels, and following a clear liquid diet. Your physician should provide exact instructions on this. Following these surgeries, you will receive pain medication to help make you comfortable. You will also have a catheter attached to drain your urine. Your recovery time depends on the type and extent of your surgery, but most patients are in the hospital for two to four days.
Colorectal cancer surgery: To determine if you have colon cancer, a doctor will perform a colonoscopy using a tube with a camera to view the entire colon and rectum. If the doctor sees any suspicious tissue, surgical tools can be passed through the tube and they can remove polyps and take tissue samples while doing this screening test. If the polyps are too large to remove during a colonoscopy, the physician may remove them using laparoscopic surgery, performed through small incisions in the abdomen.
For more advanced disease, your surgeon may perform a partial colectomy, removing the part of the colon with the cancer and reconnecting the healthy portions of the colon or rectum. When reconnection isn’t possible, a colostomy may be necessary, an opening in the abdomen wall that allows a bag to be attached, as a way to eliminate stool.
Ulcerative colitis surgery: Chronic cases of this disease which cause inflammation in the large intestine may be treated surgically when medical treatments fail. One surgery that treats this condition is a proctocolectomy, a procedure which removes the entire colon, rectum and anus, creating a Brooke ileostomy that brings the end of the bowel through the abdominal wall to an apparatus that collects waste continuously. A newer procedure is the ileoanal. This procedure removes the colon and rectum, but preserves the anal canal. It replaces what’s removed with a small bowel pouch that is used to collect waste. The benefit of this procedure is that it eliminates most of the risk of recurrent ulcerative colitis and provides the patient with a normal path for waste evacuation.
Crohn’s disease surgery: Resection and anastamosis surgery may be used to treat this chronic inflammatory disease, though medical treatment is preferred. In this procedure, the diseased segment of the bowel is removed and the healthy ends of the bowel are joined together. In many patients, surgery alleviates symptoms and allows them to reduce or stop taking related medications. Three quarters of all Crohn’s patients eventually require surgery, which is best performed by a colorectal surgeon.
Conditions that may require colorectal surgery:
- Crohn’s disease
- Colon cancer
- Colon polyps
- Rectal cancer
- Ulcerative colitis
At Center for Advanced Surgical Oncology, we treat the entire spectrum of cancers and cancer related disorders. Our experienced team of caring health professionals offers advanced surgical treatment. Dealing with cancer can be difficult, but at Center for Advanced Surgical Oncology, we are here for you every step of the way.