Editorial Staff and Contributors
A colorectal resection is a surgery to remove a section of the large intestine, also called the colon. 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.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor will likely do a physical exam and recommend blood tests.
Imaging tests take pictures of internal body structures. Imaging tests include:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
Your doctor may recommend preparation several days in advance of your procedure. This may include:
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 or ileostomy. 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 feces to exit your intestine through the stoma. It collects in a pouch called an ostomy bag. A colostomy may be left in place 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.
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. Ask your doctor about medication to help with the pain.
The usual length of stay is 5-7 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
If you have a colostomy:
Call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you had a colostomy created, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Colorectal cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003096-pdf.pdf. Accessed May 24, 2013.
Colorectal cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 3, 2013. Accessed May 24, 2013.
Diverticulitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated March 26, 2013. Accessed May 24, 2013.
Inflammatory bowel disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Accessed May 24, 2013.
Colorectal cancer prevention and treatment.
American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at:
http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/colorectal-cancer. Published April 23, 2010. Accessed May 24, 2013.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at:
Last reviewed May 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD; Brian Randall, MD
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.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.