Each year in the United States, more than 600,000 surgical procedures relating to the colon are carried out making them extremely common. Colon surgery is normally referred to as colectomy and is a procedure to remove part or all of the colon, which is more commonly known as the large intestine.
In the past, colon surgery had to be performed as ‘open’ surgery, requiring a long abdominal incision through which the area can be visualized and operated on. Patients would be required to stay in the hospital for at least a week, and an extended recovery period of up to 6 weeks as usual. Although some open surgeries are still performed, many colectomies can now be carried out laparoscopically, which is far less invasive, requires less time in hospital and has a much shorter recovery time. This makes laparoscopic colon surgery an extremely popular option for patients that require medical intervention in this area.
Types of Colon Surgery
There are different types of colon surgeries, and which you will need will depend on your individual circumstances. Some of the most common include:
Total colectomy: where the entire colon is removed.
Partial colectomy: where part of the colon is removed.
Hemicolectomy: where either the right or left-hand side of the colon is removed.
Proctocolectomy: where both the colon and rectum are removed.
It is also normal for patients to have an additional procedure carried out at the same time as their colectomy, and this focuses on reattaching the necessary areas of the digestive system so that waste can leave the body in as normal a fashion as possible. In some severe cases, alternative solutions such as colostomy bags are needed.
How do I Know if I Need Colon Surgery?
Colon surgery can be recommended for a variety of different reasons since there are many diseases that can affect this part of the body. Your doctor will be able to explain exactly why they feel that a colectomy is the best course of action for you. In the meantime, here are some of the most common reasons why patients are given a colectomy.
Diverticulitis occurs when pouches begin to protrude outward from the wall of the colon. These can become inflamed and even infected, and this leads to unpleasant symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea and stomach pain. You may also find blood in your stools.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease-causing inflammation in the digestive tract. It can be very painful and cause weight loss and blood in your stools. Surgery to remove part of the colon can be an effective treatment.
A blocked bowel can be life-threatening. Symptoms include pain that comes and goes, loss of appetite, constipation, vomiting, inability to pass gas and a swollen abdomen. If you suspect you have a bowel obstruction you must seek help immediately.
Another long-term condition, ulcerative colitis is where the colon and rectum become inflamed, with small ulcers developing on the lining of the colon itself. These can produce pus and even bleed, the substance of which passes out into your stools. Colectomy surgery can help to resolve some of the symptoms of the condition.
Also known as bowel cancer when the first cancerous cells are discovered within the colon, it is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the U.S although it predominantly affects older people. The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are persistent blood in your stools, a significant change in your bowel habits that don’t return to ‘normal’ and lower abdominal pain, bloating or discomfort. You may also lose your appetite or have unintentional weight loss. If you are diagnosed with colon cancer, you may need surgery to remove the cancerous cells and this usually involves removing part or all of the colon depending on how advanced the cancer is.
If you are concerned about any symptoms that you have and you feel that you may have an issue with a part of your digestive system, or if you simply want to learn more about colon surgery, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices in New York, NY to schedule a confidential appointment with our discreet and knowledgeable team.