A colon resection is a surgical procedure in which part of the colon is removed and the remaining colon is stitched together in an end-to-end anastamosis. This procedure can be performed for a number of different reasons, including for the treatment of colon cancer, obstructions, chronic inflammation, and other colon diseases. It is often performed by a general surgeon and it is done in a hospital under general anesthesia.
There are two ways in which a colon resection can be performed. In an open procedure, a large incision is made in the abdomen to allow the surgeon to access the colon. Recovery from open procedures can be lengthy, and there is an increased risk of infection. In a minimally invasive colon resection or laparoscopic surgery, small incisions are made to introduce tools and a camera, allowing the surgeon to perform the surgery without needing to make a large incision. This surgical technique is usually preferred unless there are strong reasons to use an open procedure.
Also known as a large bowel resection or colectomy, this procedure can result in a temporary colostomy, in which the contents of the colon are emptied through a hole made in the abdomen. A colostomy is used if the surgeon feels that the segments of the colon cannot be reattached because they are not strong enough or because of inflammation and damage. Ideally, the colostomy is temporary, and the surgeon will perform an anastomosis at a later date, but sometimes the colostomy becomes permanent.
Risks of a colon resection can include infection, inflammation, and adverse reactions to anesthesia. In the days and weeks following the surgery, the patient needs to eat a special diet to give the colon an opportunity to heal. If a surgeon is forced to convert a laparoscopic procedure to an open procedure due to surgical complications or unanticipated problems, the patient will experience an increased healing time.
A surgeon generally only recommends a colon resection when it is the most suitable treatment. The surgeon should review all of the risks with the patient, and discuss possible outcomes, including permanent colostomy or the need to convert to an open procedure from a laparoscopic one. The patient will also meet with an anesthesiologist prior to the procedure to discuss the anesthesia, and it's important to disclose any and all medical issues to the anesthesiologist, even if they do not seem relevant. The patient will also be given directions to prepare for surgery which should be followed carefully to increase the chances of a good outcome.