Colectomy—Laparoscopic Surgery (Total Colectomy; Partial Colectomy; Colon Removal)
Pronounced: ko-LEK-tuh-mee—La-PAH-rah-skah-pik suhr-gur-REE
This is a procedure to remove all or part of the colon. The colon, or large intestine, is the lower part of the intestines. In a partial colectomy, only part of the colon is removed. In a total colectomy, all of the colon is removed.
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A colectomy may be done to treat a variety of conditions, including:
Inflammatory intestinal diseases (eg,
Crohn’s disease Intestinal blockage Trauma to the intestine —small pouches form in the wall of the colon
Diverticular disease Precancerous polyps (eg, familial polyposis) A hole in the bowel wall or dead piece of bowel Bleeding from the colon
If you are planning to have a colectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Damage to other organs or structures Infection Bleeding Hernia
at the incision site
Blood clots Complications from general anesthesia
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Neurological, heart, or lung conditions Age: older than 70 years Obesity Smoking Previous abdominal surgery Infection
Your doctor may do the following:
Physical exam Blood tests Ultrasound
exam of the abdomen—a test that uses sound waves to visualize the inside of the abdomen
—x-ray exam of the abdomen after swallowing a barium drink and/or receiving a barium enema
Barium X-ray —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body
CT Scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body
Colonoscopy and —exam and removal of tissue inside the large intestine using a flexible tube with a camera on the end biopsy
Leading up to your procedure:
Talk to your doctor about your current medicines. Certain medicines may need to be stopped before the procedure, such as:
or other anti-inflammatory drugs for up to one week before surgery
Blood-thinning drugs (eg,
(Plavix) Clopidogrel Drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water daily. If recommended by your doctor: Follow a special diet. Take laxatives. Take antibiotics. Shower the night before the procedure using antibacterial soap. Arrange to have someone drive you home and to help you at home. The night before, eat a light meal or drink clear liquids. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight unless told otherwise by your doctor.
The doctor will make small incisions in the abdomen. She will then insert instruments through these incisions . The section of colon will then be removed through these small openings. The doctor may then sew together the two parts of the colon. In some cases, the doctor may need to switch to
. This involves making a larger incision. open surgery
If all of your colon is removed, a colostomy or ileostomy will be done. This will create a path for waste to leave the body. The doctor will make a small opening, called a stoma, in the front of the abdominal wall. The open end of your intestine will be attached at the stoma. The stoma may be either temporary or permanent. This procedure may also be done if your intestine needs time to heal.
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Stitches or staples will be used to close the area. A bandage will be placed over the incisions.
You will be taken to the recovery room.
You will have pain after the surgery. Your doctor will give you pain medicine.
The hospital stay is 5-6 days. You may need to stay longer if you have complications.
The hospital staff will:
Give you instructions about diet and activity if you have a stoma and a bag to collect waste. During the first few days after surgery, you may be restricted from eating. Instruct you to wear boots or special socks to prevent blood clots in your legs. Encourage you to do deep breathing to help prevent pneumonia.
If you have a colostomy:
Limit activity for 1-2 months.
A nurse will teach you how to care for the stoma site and change the
ostomy bag. Slowly progress from a clear liquid diet, to a bland, low-fiber diet. You will slowly advance to a regular diet. Tell your doctor and pharmacist that you cannot take medicines that are time-released or time-sustained. Do not take laxatives. Drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of fluid every day. Extra fluid will be lost in your stool. Follow your doctor’s
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Signs of infection, including fever and chills Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given, or that lasts for more than two days Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given Pain, burning, urgency or frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain Joint pain, fatigue, stiffness, rash, or other new symptoms Feeling weak or dizzy Pain or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs Bloody or black stools Diarrhea Lack of stool in the colostomy bag Severe abdominal pain Bleeding from the stoma Not collecting stool in the ostomy pouch
In case of an emergency,
Alves A, Panis Y, Mathieu P, et al. Postoperative mortality and morbidity in French patients undergoing colorectal surgery: results of a prospective multicenter study.
Archives of Surgery. 2005;140:278-283.
A patient guide to colostomy care. Northwestern Memorial Hospital website. Available at:
http://www.nmh.org/nmh/patientinformation/patientguidecolostomycare.htm. Accessed July 16, 2008.
Dictionary of cancer terms. National Cancer Institute website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary/. Accessed July 16, 2008.
Feo CV, Zerbinati A, Giacometti M, et al. The ideal length of hospital stay in the surgical treatment of colorectal cancer.
Ann Ital Chir. 2002;73:13-16.
Perioperative management. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at:
. Accessed September 24, 2005.
What is the treatment for Crohn’s disease? National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse website. Available at:
Accessed July 16, 2008.
Last reviewed October 2009 by
Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a
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