A colectomy is a surgical procedure performed on the colon (a section of the lower intestine). During this procedure, the diseased area is removed by the surgeon, as well as small portions on either side of the area. The remaining tissues are then attached together.
There are a few conditions that require a colon operation; examples of such conditions follow:
However, colon cancer is the most common disease requiring a colectomy. When the cancerous portion of the colon is removed, the lymphs surrounding it are removed as well, so that the cancer does not spread and the colon can be healthy again.
The most common symptoms experienced when in need of a colectomy are:
Colon screening is very important. The doctor will perform a physical exam and request a detailed medical history for you and your family. The doctor will also ask if are experiencing stomach pain or other notable symptoms. The doctor may also perform one or more of the following tests:
There are two ways colectomies are performed; an open colectomy and a laparoscopic-assisted colectomy.
An open colectomy requires the surgeon to make an incision in the abdomen through which the diseased portion of colon can be removed. The divided ends of the colon are sewn (or stapled) back together. If the connection is impossible, however, the colon will be taken through the abdomen and becomes a colostomy.
A laparoscopic-assisted colectomy is a minimally invasive procedure (MIS) in which a lighted camera and surgical instruments are inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. Through these tiny incisions, portions of the diseased colon or tumor are removed. This method is very simple and allows for quicker recovery time and minimal discomfort. The chances of complications or infection is very low, meaning less chance of a return visit. There is also less scarring and a quicker return to intestinal function.
Pro: removing the diseased portions of the colon will relieve the symptoms being experiencing
Pro: It saves lives. Those with colon cancer will have the chance at a happy, healthy future
Con: As with any surgical procedure, there are risks. One of these risks is intestinal leakage or requiring the use of a colostomy bag. However, many times the colostomy issues are temporary.
Con: Potential wound infection or blood clots
Whatever the risks may be, however, the risk of not getting a colectomy when you need one is worse. Colectomies save many lives. Colon cancer can be beaten, and this procedure plays a crucial role in this.
Before the procedure, you will need to:
On the day of your colectomy, you will need to:
After the procedure, you will be kept under watch at the hospital. Your vital signs will be taken regularly to make sure you are not experiencing any post-surgery complications. Doctors advise that you get up and walk around five to six times a day to keep blood circulating and to prevent clots.
Once you are at home, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent readmission. Doctors recommend that for two weeks following the operation, a low fiber diet is implemented to reduce frequent bowel movements. Drinking plenty of fluids is also highly recommended. A nutritionist will advise the best plan of action for you and your body.
Normal physical activity can, in most cases, resume within one to two weeks. You can return to work or school, but keep in mind that heavy lifting or undue strain should be avoided for four to six weeks after surgery.
It is important that your hands are completely clean, when touching the site of the surgery. This way, there is little risk of infection. Long amounts of time in the water are ill advised when the stitches are still in, as is exposure to the sun. Be gentle with the wound; it will typically heal in four to six weeks, and taking care not to aggravate the area aids in this recovery.
You should contact your surgeon if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms after surgery:
Some colon conditions do not require a colectomy; some simply need antibiotics or medication assisting in the function of the immune system. It is important that you visit a doctor and discuss the correct course of action to take towards improved health.
Colectomies save lives. If you experience any issues of the colon, it is important that you visit your doctor. Early screening and diagnosis lead to quicker treatment, which means less complications and more chances of leading a long, healthy life.
The Second Class Honour M.D., Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University. Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University , 2002