A laparoscopic colon resection is a surgical procedure performed to treat a wide range of medical problems that affect the colon, which is the large intestine. Any laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that uses several smaller incisions instead of a large incision in order to accelerate healing. When a surgeon performs a colon resection, they may remove all of the colon or a portion of it. Patients should expect a total recovery time of about two months. Colon resection surgeries may also be called a large bowel resection or a colectomy.
Patients may undergo a laparoscopic colon resection for many different reasons, including colon cancer and Crohn's disease. It can also be used to treat a bowel obstruction, abscesses, and inflammatory bowel disease. Other patients who undergo this procedure suffer from an injury to the bowel, severe bleeding in the area, or volvulus, which occurs when the colon becomes twisted.
Some preparation is required before a laparoscopic colon resection. Patients may undergo medical tests, including imaging and blood tests. Smokers must try to quit beforehand to reduce the risk of complications. Blood thinners should be discontinued, usually two weeks prior to the operation. Patients must discuss all medications and supplements they take, including over-the-counter drugs.
Two weeks before the surgery, patients should strive to cleanse the digestive tract by consuming high fiber foods and drinking plenty of water. The doctor will instruct the patient to take laxatives and enemas a few days beforehand. Dietary restrictions are necessary on the day prior to a colon resection. Patients will likely be directed to consume only clear fluids for a period of time, and then to refrain from eating or drinking anything, including water for a certain amount of time.
A laparoscopic colon resection is performed under general anesthesia, so the patient will not be conscious. Three to five small incisions will be made in the lower abdomen, and a tiny camera and other surgical instruments are inserted. The surgeon will remove a portion of the colon and sew the ends together, or he may remove the entire colon. If the entire colon is removed, the patient will have a colostomy, which allows waste products to empty into an external bag.
Patients should expect to remain in the hospital for three to five days after this type of laparoscopic surgery. Light activities, such as personal hygiene tasks and walking up the stairs may be resumed quickly. Patients must not drive if they are taking narcotic pain medications. Many people return to work within a few weeks of undergoing a laparoscopic colon resection. It may take six to eight weeks for a full recovery, after which most patients may resume heavy lifting and other strenuous physical activities.
Before having a laparoscopic colon resection, patients should discuss the potential risks with their doctors. These can include blood clots, bleeding, and infections. Sometimes, the scar tissue can obstruct the bowel. Infrequently, the stitches holding the colon together may fail, which requires additional treatment. Patients should contact their doctor as soon as possible if they experience a fever or drainage, warmth, or swelling around the incision site.