A bowel resection is usually inevitable during the treatment for colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease. This surgical resection of the bowel is also known as a colectomy. It results in the removal of some or all of the large intestine. As you may have imagined, this procedure can be life-saving, but it can also affect a patient’s quality of life. That is why learning about this procedure and post-surgery recovery is necessary.
The large intestine’s primary function is to absorb water and help move out bodily wastes. It consists of three portions: the ascending, transverse, and descending colon. A colectomy may be performed through open or laparoscopic surgery. After the procedure, you will have to stay in the hospital for three to seven days.
Living with an ostomy
After colectomy, the two ends of your bowel can be joined to allow you to move bowels like usual. In some cases, a colectomy may result in the removal of the entire colon. Regardless of the amount of colon you get removed during a colectomy, you will need to have an ostomy, which can be permanent or temporary, depending on how much of colon you retain.
An ostomy is a bowel diversion that allows the small or large intestine to open into the outside after passing through a small cut in your abdominal wall. Since you won’t have the ability to control when to move your bowels, you will have to wear an ostomy bag over the abdominal opening (stoma). While it will take some time for you to get used to an ostomy, it shouldn’t cause any disruption to your daily life. You can engage in any activity you like. Even if you have a permanent ostomy, you can live to the fullest.
It is perfectly normal to have some psychological or emotional problems after surgery. You will feel self-conscious about wearing an ostomy bag. The good thing is that most ostomy bags are flat and remain undetectable under the clothes. You can join an ostomy support group to share your concerns and listen to others. That way, you will learn essential things that can help you live to the fullest.
Risks and complications of colectomy
Here are some potential complications or risks associated with bowel resection surgery.
- Reaction to general anesthesia
- Skin infection at the site of the incision
- Intestinal leakage
- Internal bleeding
- Bowel obstruction
While prospects of all these complications look threatening, they shouldn’t be a reason to avoid going for a colectomy if it is inevitable. The good news is medical science has progressed substantially to allow surgeons and doctors to mitigate these complications and their risks.
A colectomy often results in a permanent or temporary ostomy, which is a bowel diversion disconnecting the rectum and anus from the rest of the bowel. The patient passes out stools through the stoma in the abdomen. While adapting to life with an ostomy requires time and planning, you will be able to lead a healthy and active life. The best way is to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.