More common than you may think
Diseases of the colon and rectum that require surgery occur in more than 600,000 patients a year in the United States. These diseases include diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's colitis, colonic polyps and colorectal cancer.
What is the colon?
After food is chewed and swallowed, it passes to the stomach where digestion begins. The food moves to the intestines (long tubular organ). The first portion is called the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. The remaining waste continues to the colon (large intestine) and rectum where water is absorbed. The waste is held here until it is expelled.
What is Laparoscopic Colon Resection Surgery?
In a minimally invasive laparoscopic colon resection surgery, the patient is given general anesthesia. Then, 4-6 small incisions the width of a dime are made in the abdomen. One is used for the laparoscope which is attached to a camera that sends images to a video monitor. The other incisions are used to insert instruments to hold or manipulate tissue in the abdomen. The diseased portion of the colon is identified, carefully dissected, removed and repaired.
How long will I have to stay in the hospital?
In the past, a large abdominal incision was made and resulted in an average hospital stay of five to eight (5-8) days and recovery at home is six (6) weeks or more. Today, the technique has been modified using a minimally invasive approach that avoids the need for a large abdominal incision. The length of in-hospital stay is two to four (2-4) days and return to work can occur as early as two to three (2-3) weeks.
Physicians favor laparoscopic colon surgery because of the many benefits that can improve the patient's experience. "When you see patients hours after the surgery standing up and walking, able to take a liquid diet with little to no pain, and able to go home in two or three days, it is very rewarding," says Leslie Cagle, MD, general surgeon with PeaceHealth Medical Group Surgical Specialists. The main benefits of laparoscopic colon surgery include:
- Faster recovery time and shorter time in the hospital
- Less post-operative pain
- Quicker return to normal activities
- Minimal adhesions (scar tissue)
What To Know About Colon Cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults begin colorectal screening at age 50. Frequently, there are no symptoms, but the following changes might be important to discuss with your doctor:
- A change in bowel habits
- Blood in the stool
- A feeling that the bowel doesn't completely empty
- Abdominal gas, bloating, fullness or cramps
- Unexplained anemia
Published April 2008.