Treating Colon Conditions

Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with a colon condition, or have been coping with one for some time, you may now be searching for information about your treatment options. The first step is having a discussion with your doctor about the various treatment options. You and your doctor may decide that colon surgery is the best treatment.
Colorectal conditions that can be treated laparoscopically include:

  • Diverticular disease, specifically diverticulitis
  • Appendicitis
  • Benign and malignant colon and rectal polyps, tumors and malignancies (cancer)
  • Severe constipation which does not respond to medicine
  • Rectal prolapse (when rectal tissue relaxes or is no longer supported by the surrounded muscle)
  • Colon volvulus (any twisting or displacement of the intestines causing obstruction)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Chrohn’s or ulcerative colitis)

Symptoms

Symptoms of colorectal diseases include bleeding from the rectum, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits (new diarrhea, constipation, stool size, etc.), weight loss, anemia, cramping, vomiting, fever, among many others. Prior to undergoing surgery, your primary doctor or your surgeon will usually do tests (blood work, colonoscopy, barium enema, CT scan, etc.) to decide the cause of your symptoms. If you are found to have a disease that requires surgery, that is when a laparoscopic colorectal operation will be considered.

How Colon Surgery is Performed

In this surgery, the section of the colon that’s affected is cut out, and the two ends of the colon are reattached. The goal here is to re-create a functioning colon. In some cases, when the colon or rectum can’t function normally, a new opening to the outside of the body (called a stoma) is created. The intestine is connected through the opening to an external bag where waste is collected – this is called a colostomy. In some cases this colostomy can be reversed. Colon resection surgery has usually been performed using traditional “open” procedures, which require large incisions. With the advancement of technology and the development of new techniques, there are now minimally invasive options (with small incisions) that are just as effective. Minimally invasive colon surgery usually reduces the pain28 and scarring from the procedure and may speed the recovery process.

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    Traditional Colon Surgery

    In an open colon procedure,the surgeon:

    • Makes an incision up to 12 inches long from the upper abdomen to the lower abdomen.
    • Removes the diseased section of the colon, as well as a small portion of healthy colon on each side.
    • Joins the two ends of the colon together, if possible, or else creates an opening, or stoma, to the outside.
    • Closes the incision with sutures or surgical staples.
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    Minimally Invasive Colon Surgery

    If diet and lifestyle changes, drug therapy, or other treatments don’t relieve your signs and symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery.
    Surgery can often eliminate ulcerative colitis. But that usually means removing your entire colon and rectum (proctocolectomy). In the past, after this
    procedure to revise the reservoir.
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    Minimally Invasive Colon Surgery

    In a minimally invasive colon procedure, the surgeon:

    • Makes a series of ¾-inch incisions and a single 4-inch incision in the abdomen.
    • Inserts a miniature camera called a laparoscope into your abdomen through one of the incisions, and watches the images on a video monitor.
    • Uses advanced, long-handled instruments inserted through the small incisions to pull the colon out the 4-inch incision.
    • Removes the diseased section of the colon, as well as a small portion of healthy colon on each side.
    • Joins the two ends of the colon together, if possible, or else creates an opening, or stoma, to the outside.
    • Closes each incision with a few stitches.
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    Benefits of Minimally Invasive Procedures for Colon Surgery

    While a traditional colon resection (requiring large incisions) may be appropriate for some patients, minimally invasive procedures (with small incisions) can be just as effective and may provide significant benefits such as:

    • Less pain after surgery
    • Fewer complications
    • A shorter hospital stay
    • A faster recovery and return to normal activities – MIP patients return to work 5-26 days sooner than patients who have open surgery.
    • Faster return to normal diet
    • Faster return to work or normal activity
    • Better cosmetic healing
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    After Surgery

    Regardless of whether you have an open surgery or a minimally invasive procedure, you’ll need time to heal. If you had a colon resection, you will not be able to eat for the first couple of days and will be given intravenous fluids and pain medication. You’ll probably feel tired and weak, and possibly have slight constipation for some time after colon surgery.
    Results are different for each procedure and each patient. Some common advantages of minimally invasive colorectal surgery are:
    Many patients qualify for laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery. However, some conditions may decrease a patient’s eligibility, such as previous abdominal surgery, cancer (in some situations), obesity, variations in anatomy or advanced heart, lung or kidney disease.