The surgical procedure aimed at removing all or part of the colon is known as a colectomy. The colon consists of six feet of the large intestine and six inches of the rectum. A colectomy may be performed on any part of the colon, depending on the location of the damage.
If you have to undergo this surgery, it can be very helpful to know about the procedure. That will help you adjust to your life in a much better way.
Reasons for colon removal
You may get a colectomy recommended for multiple reasons. It can be a treatment option for various health conditions and diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, and colorectal cancer. Your doctor may also recommend this procedure if you have conditions like bowel injuries, intestinal bleeding, or bowel obstruction. A colectomy can help cure the condition by reducing your symptoms significantly.
Types of colectomy procedure
The two types of colectomy are subtotal colectomy and total colectomy. During a subtotal colectomy, the surgeon removes only a part of the colon. The surgeon then reconnects two ends of the colon. After that, you will be able to move your bowels as usual. A total colectomy involves the removal of the entire colon. The surgeon will attach the small intestine to the anus. Alternatively, you may get a stoma.
Surgeons who perform colectomies
A colectomy is generally carried out by a colon or rectal surgeon. Colon and rectal surgeons are general surgeons with advanced training in colon and rectal treatment. The surgeon first makes sure that the patient is under the influence of general anesthesia before the start of the operation. This surgery requires a patient to remain hospitalized for a few days.
Chance of risk
Although most colectomies are successful, the possibility of risks or complications cannot be ruled out. Risks arising after a colectomy may include reactions to general anesthesia, blood clots, bleeding, and infections. Some other risks include scarring, leakage through the incision, and the problem with the movement of stools. On rare occasions, other body organs can also get damaged. You can discuss these risks with your surgeon.
It will take some time before you can start eating and drinking as usual. You will have to take clear liquids a day after surgery. Then, you can thicken the consistency of those liquids with every passing day. You will eventually be able to eat solid foods in a few weeks. Full recovery usually takes four to six weeks, depending on how much colon you retain. It also depends on your overall health and age.
Ileostomy or colostomy
A colectomy usually involves the removal of a significant part of your bowel. It may lead to a colostomy or ileostomy, depending on the part of the bowel pulled through a small incision in your belly to create a stoma. This stoma can be temporary or permanent. If you have a stoma, you have to work closely with an ostomy care nurse to learn everything regarding ostomy care.
State of digestive health
The time required for your bowel to heal after surgery depends significantly on your health and the type of surgery performed. You can engage in some physical activity according to your doctor’s instructions to speed up the recovery process.