A colorectal resection is a surgery to remove a section of the large intestine. It is done to remove injured or diseased parts of the colon.
This surgery is performed to treat a variety of conditions, including the following:
For colon cancer, the goal is to remove all of the cancer. If you have a precancerous condition, then you may have prevented the development of cancer. If you had surgery due to other conditions, a successful operation will alleviate or improve your symptoms.
If you are planning to have a resection, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
The operation may be done either using a
or using standard open techniques. This description focuses on a standard open approach.
The doctor will make a cut in the skin over the area of intestine that needs to be removed. The cuts will pass through skin and muscle to reach the inside of the abdomen. The intestine will be clamped on either side of the piece that is to be removed. The intestine next to each clamp will be cut. The diseased portion of intestine will then be removed. The two loose ends of intestine will be sewn together. Some soft tubes may be left in the abdomen to drain any accumulating fluids.
If the procedure was done as an emergency, or if the doctor decides that the intestines need time to rest and heal, you may require a colostomy. In this procedure, an artificial opening will be created in your abdomen, called a stoma. One or both ends of the intestine will be attached to the stoma. This allows waste material (feces) to exit your intestine through the stoma. It collects in a pouch called an ostomy bag. A colostomy may be left in place for several months while your intestine heals.
When your intestine has healed properly, you will undergo another operation. The ends of the intestine will be rejoined. If the majority of your large intestine has been removed, you may require a permanent colostomy.
The muscles and skin of the abdomen will be closed. Stitches or staples may be used. A sterile dressing will be applied. If you have a colostomy, an ostomy bag will be attached to collect feces.
The removed tissue will be sent to a lab to be examined. You will be moved to a recovery room. There, you will be monitored for any negative reactions to the surgery or anesthesia
About 1-4 hours
The anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. Medicine may be given to help manage any pain after the procedure.
The usual length of stay is 5-7 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s
If you have a colostomy:
If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Canadian Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at:
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at:
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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