Colectomy

Colon and Rectal Cancer


Patient Resources

The vast majority of people who develop colon cancer, and some people with large polyps, diverticulitis and other conditions, will require surgical resection (removal) of a segment of the colon or rectum. Surgery to remove a portion of the colon, also known as "colon resection" or "colectomy," is a technically challenging operation compared to other common laparoscopically performed procedures such as removal of the gall bladder removal or surgery to correct GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disorder).

During colectomy, it is commonly necessary for the surgeon to operate in more than one area of the abdomen in order to separate the bowel from its blood vessels, resect the colon and join the two ends of bowel together (anastomosis). The procedure can be performed either laparoscopically (small incisions) or via an open midline conventional (laparotomy) approach. During laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon utilizes a small incision through which a "port" is placed to inflate the abdominal cavity with gas. A camera is then introduced through the port to help visualize the inside of the abdominal cavity on a television monitor. Surgery is performed with instruments through additional ports placed via small incisions in the abdominal wall.

After the colon segment has been removed, it is necessary to make a small incision or enlarge one of the port wounds to an overall length of 5 to 7 cm. in order to safely withdraw the specimen from the abdomen and to facilitate the connecting of the open ends of the remaining bowel. Because of the need for this larger wound, a more proper name for minimally invasive colectomy is laparoscopic-assisted colectomy. However, for brevity's sake, the term "laparoscopic colectomy" is often used. For purposes of comparison, the length of an open laparotomy incision for colectomy ranges from 15 to 28 cm.

Colon cancer surgery with anastomosis; first panel shows area of colon with cancer, middle panel shows cancer and nearby tissue removed, last panel shows cut ends of colon joined.
Colon cancer surgery with anastomosis; first panel shows area of colon with cancer, middle panel shows cancer and nearby tissue removed, last panel shows cut ends of colon joined.

FAQs about Colon and Rectum Surgery


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