Colorectal surgery - Medical specialists

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Colorectal surgery - Further information

Overview of intestinal Surgery

Surgeons often describe intestinal Surgery as a colectomy, which is a surgical intervention performed to remove the colon or a section thereof. This long, tube-like organ, which has several sections, is attached to the end of your digestive tract and is therefore the final part of your body’s digestive system. A colectomy procedure may be recommended as a means of treating or preventing a number of diseases and conditions that can affect your colon.

There is a variety of different colectomy procedures, such as:

  • a total colectomy, which removes all of the colon
  • a partial colectomy (or subtotal colectomy) which removes a portion of the colon
  • a hemicolectomy, which removes either the right or left-hand section of the colon
  • a proctocolectomy, which removes the rectum as well as the colon

Intestinal Surgery commonly requires other associated procedures to re-join the remaining elements of your digestive system so that waste material can continue to leave your digestive system.

Large Intestine Anatomy
Large intestine anatomy

Who offers colorectal Surgery?

Intestinal Surgery is commonly offered by specialist private health clinics, which are in some cases managed by universities, insurers, mutual societies or religious institutions. In addition, there are state-run hospitals (such as those managed by the UK’s NHS or Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health), which also employ skilled surgeons who specialise in various kinds of intestinal Surgery.

What does intestinal Surgery help with?

Colorectal Surgery can help with treating and preventing the following diseases and conditions:

  • uncontrolled bleeding may be treated by removal of the part of the colon affected.
  • a bowel obstruction – which is a medical emergency – may require removal of some or all of the colon.
  • a colon cancer may require some form of colectomy, and the type of procedure will usually depend on the stage and extent of the disease.
  • Crohn's disease symptoms may be treated by removing part of the colon, and may also be considered if a colonoscopy examination indicates that pre-cancer changes are taking place.
  • ulcerative colitis may require a total colectomy or a colectomy response if a colonoscopy examination indicates the presence of pre-cancer changes.
  • diverticulitis may be treated by removal of the part of the colon affected if your diverticulitis is recurrent (keeps coming back), or if you develop any of the complications of diverticulitis.

Preventive surgery may be an option if the development of pre-cancerous colon polyps indicates you have an unusually high risk of developing colon cancer. Likewise, a colectomy may be an option to consider if you have inherited genetic conditions that greatly increase your risk of contracting colon cancer.

It’s always wise to talk through the benefits of all your treatment options with your doctor before making any final decision.

When is intestinal Surgery used?

Intestinal Surgery is used to treat or prevent some diseases and conditions that can affect the digestive system.

There are two methods employed:

  • an open colectomy, which accesses the colon through a long abdominal incision. The colon is then eased away from other abdominal tissue in order to surgically remove all or part of the colon.
  • a laparoscopic colectomy is a less-invasive procedure, which requires a number of small abdominal incisions. The operation is carried out using a tiny camera and micro-surgical tools to retrieve the colon, via one of the small incisions. The appropriate type of colectomy repair is then performed externally before returning the organ to your body.
When your colon has been repaired or removed, your digestive system will be reconnected so waste can leave your body. This may involve:
  • reconnecting the remaining parts of the colon to allow body functions to continue as before
  • joining your colon or small intestine (temporarily or permanently) to an abdominal opening through which waste then leaves your body to be collected outside
  • joining your small intestine and anus together (after removal of the colon and rectum) to allow body functions to continue much as before

What are the risks of intestinal Surgery?

Colorectal Surgery does carry some risks, and their severity is mostly influenced by considerations such as your age and general state of health, as well as the kind of colectomy procedure performed. The particular risks may include:S

  • excessive bleeding
  • deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in your leg)
  • pulmonary embolism (a blood clot on your lung)
  • wound infection
  • injury to the small intestines, bladder or other organs near your colon
  • tears in the stitching used to re-join the remaining elements of your digestive system
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