Bowel Resection FAQs
What is a bowel resection?
Also known as colon resection or colectomy, a bowel resection involves the surgical removal of part of the small intestine (small bowel resection) or colon (large bowel resection) and the reconnection of the remaining ends.
When is a bowel resection necessary?
Surgery is recommended for the treatment of certain diseases such as cancer and diverticular disease, intestinal blockage due to scar tissue, ulcerative colitis that does not respond to medication, traumatic injuries and polyps.
Is there any preparation before surgery?
Prior to surgery the colon may need to be cleaned with an enema or oral laxative.
What is the bowel resection procedure?
The patient is put under general anesthesia. A series of small incisions is made in the abdomen through which an endoscope and surgical instruments are inserted. Working through these tiny incisions with the help of the endoscopic camera, the surgeon removes the diseased intestine and sews the remaining ends together. The incisions are then stitched closed.
What is the recovery period for a bowel resection?
Even after a resection in which large sections of the bowel are removed, the patient will be able to return to a normal schedule with a good quality of life. Most patients return home within a week, although a full recovery may take up to two months. Immediately after surgery, the patient will be on a liquid diet, then a soft diet, and then a low fiber diet. The goal is for the patient to digest more slowly and produce less stool until the body adjusts to the bowel resection. As the patient resumes normal activities, heavy lifting and strenuous exercise should be avoided for a period determined by the physician.
Is further surgery required?
Occasionally the colon needs to heal without handling digested food. If this is the case, a colostomy is performed in which a temporary opening is made in the abdominal wall and a drainage bag is secured to the small intestine. This may be temporary, requiring surgery at a later time to remove the bag and reconnect the affected parts of the bowel.
What are the possible complications of a bowel resection?
Complications as a result of a bowel resection are uncommon, but may include:
- Hernia at the incision site
- Narrowing of the stoma, the incision site
- Intestinal blockage due to scar tissue
- Leakage at the resection site
What are the risks associated with a bowel resection?
All surgical procedures have risks which may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clots
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia or medications
- Post-surgical infection
- Breathing problems