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A small bowel resection is the removal of part of the small intestine. The small intestine includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The surgery can be done through an open incision or using smaller incisions using a laproscope.
This procedure may be done to treat the following conditions:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia—you will be asleep during the procedure
The procedure may be done with one of two methods:
In either type of surgery, the small intestine will be clamped above and below the diseased section. This section will be cut free and removed.
If there is enough healthy intestine left, the free ends of the intestine may be joined together. Otherwise, a permanent or temporary ileostomy is created. An ileostomy is an opening called a stoma in the abdomen. The end of the small intestine closest to the stomach is attached to the opening. This allows intestinal contents to drain into a sealed pouch on the outside of the body. If a temporary ileostomy is created, another operation will be necessary several months later to reverse it.
The abdomen incisions will be closed with stitches.
About 1-4 hours
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
The usual length of stay is 5-7 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise or if you had a large amount of intestine removed.
A catheter will be placed in your bladder before surgery. You will also have a nasogastric tube. This is a small tube that goes in through your nose and down into your stomach. The tube may be used to drain fluids from your stomach or to help deliver food to your stomach. The catheter and tube will remain until you are able to eat and go to the bathroom normally.
You will have some activity restrictions, such as avoiding heavy lifting. Moving around will help prevent blood clots and promote healing. Follow wound care instructions to avoid infection. Your healthcare team will teach you how to care for your ileostomy and provide you with resources.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American College of Surgeons
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Cancer Society
Laparoscopic small bowel resection. Upstate University Hospital website. Available at:
http://www.upstate.edu/community/services/mis/resection.php. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Small bowel resection. Encyclopedia of Surgery website. Available at: http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Pa-St/Small-Bowel-Resection.html. Accessed May 23, 2013.
6/3/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.dynamed.com: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daus Mahnke, MD
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