Is a Large Bowel Resection?
A large bowel resection is also known as a colectomy. The
goal of this surgery is for your surgeon to remove diseased sections of your
large bowel. Another name for the large bowel is the large intestine. The large
intestine consists of several parts, including the colon.
During this surgery, your surgeon removes the diseased parts of
the bowel and then reconnects the healthy parts. Your surgeon may remove all or
part of your bowel.
Your surgeon may perform a colostomy if there’s not enough healthy intestine after surgery.
During a colostomy, your surgeon moves one end of your large intestine to the outside
of your abdominal wall and attaches a colostomy bag to your abdomen. When stool passes through your
large intestine, it drains into the bag. The stool that goes into the bag is
usually soft or liquid.
A colostomy is often temporary. You’ll have the bag until your
intestines heal. During a new operation, your surgeon can then remove the
colostomy. In some cases, the colostomy is permanent.
Do I Need a Large Bowel Resection?
A large bowel resection may be necessary to treat conditions such
- intestinal blockages caused by scar tissue or
which is a disease of the large bowel
- precancerous polyps
- bleeding in the intestines
which is an abnormal twisting of the bowel
colitis, which is a type of bowel inflammation
which occurs when one part of your intestine slides into another part of your
Are the Risks Associated with a Large Bowel Resection?
All types of surgery carry some risk. These risks can include:
- difficulty breathing
- heart attack or stroke
- blood clots
The risks that are specific to a lower bowel resection include:
- bleeding inside the abdomen
- an incisional hernia, which occurs when tissue comes
through the surgical cut
- damage to the bladder or other nearby organs
- scar tissue
- dehiscence, which is an opening of a surgical
- problems with the colostomy, such as skin
There are also risks associated with general anesthesia. These
include reactions to medication and breathing difficulties.
Do I Prepare for a Large Bowel Resection?
At least two weeks before surgery, tell your doctor about all the
medications you’re taking. You should include supplements such as
vitamins and herbs. You should also inform them about any recent illnesses
including any colds, flus, or herpes breakouts.
Before surgery, your doctor may need you to:
- stop taking blood-thinning drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or warfarin
- stop smoking
- drink plenty of water
- eat foods high in fiber
A few days before you have a large bowel resection, you may need to:
- take laxatives to help you defecate
- have an enema to clear your colon
- drink only clear liquids, such as water, clear
juice, and broth
On the day of your surgery, follow your doctor’s instructions.
You may need to refrain from eating or drinking anything for 12 hours before
Is a Large Bowel Resection Performed?
You’ll receive general anesthesia before the surgery begins. This
will keep you asleep during the surgery. It will also keep you from feeling
pain. Your surgeon may do a laparoscopic
or open colectomy.
In a laparoscopic colectomy, your surgeon uses a camera to get a
clear view of your intestines. The surgery is performed through a series of
small incisions. It’s less invasive than open surgery.
In an open colectomy, your surgeon makes a large incision in your
abdomen to see the bowel directly.
The basic structure of both surgeries is the same. The surgeon
accesses your bowel using one or more incisions and removes the diseased or
damaged bowel. The remaining bowel is stapled or sewn together. This is known
as an anastomosis. Your surgeon will also perform a colostomy if needed. They’ll
then stitch the incision closed.
In some cases, your surgeon may also need to remove other organs
during the surgery.
Happens After a Large Bowel Resection?
You’ll generally stay in the hospital for three to seven days.
You may need to stay in the hospital longer if you develop complications. You
may also need to stay longer if you have a more serious underlying health
You’ll have to follow specific instructions about how to eat
after your surgery. You’re generally able to drink clear liquids by the second
or third day. As you heal, you’ll be able to drink thicker fluids and eat soft
A full recovery may take about two months.
Is the Long-Term Outlook?
Most people who have a large bowel resection make a full
recovery. You may have to use a colostomy bag temporarily. You may also need a
permanent colostomy. A colostomy doesn’t usually prevent you from doing the activities
You may need ongoing medical care if you have a chronic bowel
condition, such as cancer, Crohn’s
disease, or ulcerative colitis.