(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.
Reasons for Procedure
A colectomy may be done to treat a variety of conditions, including:
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
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Neurological, heart, or lung conditions
- Age: older than 70 years
- Previous abdominal surgery
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
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
Barium X-ray—x-ray exam of the abdomen after swallowing a barium drink and/or receiving a barium enema CT Scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body MRI Scan—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body
biopsy—exam and removal of tissue inside the large intestine using a flexible tube with a camera on the end
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:
- 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.
You will receive
Description of Procedure
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
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.
Stitches or staples will be used to close the area. A bandage will be placed over the incisions.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be taken to the recovery room.
How Long Will It Take
1- 4 hours or more
How Much Will It Hurt?
You will have pain after the surgery. Your doctor will give you pain medicine.
Average Hospital Stay
The hospital stay is 5-6 days. You may need to stay longer if you have complications.
At the Hospital
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 instructions.
Call Your Doctor
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
American Cancer Society
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
National Cancer Institute
The Canadian Association for Enterostomal Therapy
Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada
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Last reviewed October 2009 by
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 medical condition.
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