Laparoscopic Colectomy

A colectomy is surgery that involves removing a part or the entire colon (large intestine or bowel). This is a surgery that is sometimes used to treat cancer of the colon, diverticulitis, or colitis.

What is a laparoscopic colectomy?

A laparoscopic (lap-er-uh-skop-ic) colectomy uses a special device called a laparoscope. Small (about one inch) incisions are made to allow the insertion of the laparoscope and surgical instruments. Attached to the laparoscope is a tiny special TV camera that allows the colon and surrounding tissue to be magnified on a monitor. The surgeon can remove the part of the colon that needs treatment.

What are the benefits?

A laparoscopic colectomy requires a shorter hospital stay, less pain after surgery, faster healing, and the ability to eat solid foods sooner after the surgery than traditional surgery. With a laparoscopic colectomy there is a minimal risk of damage to surrounding structures and organs.

What are the risks?

Possible risks are:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Injury to nearby structures and organs
  • Leakage of bowel contents at the surgery site.

Will I need any tests before surgery?

Your doctor may order a colonoscopy and some blood tests. A colonoscopy is an exam of the colon using a slim, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope. The doctor can get a clear, magnified view of the inside of your colon. Depending on your health, some additional tests may be ordered.

How should I prepare for surgery?

The night before the surgery, you will be required to take a special medicine that clears your colon of any contents. This lessens the risk of infection. You will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the surgery. Do not smoke, chew tobacco or gum the morning of surgery. You will be contacted as to what time to arrive at the hospital on the day of surgery. Bring any comfort items from home that you may need for a short hospital stay.

What should I expect after surgery?

The usual hospital stay is three to five days. While in the hospital, you will be on a clear liquid diet until you begin passing gas (flatus). Sometimes a urinary catheter is needed for a few days. Most people return to their normal level of activity in about two to three weeks. Heavy lifting is to be avoided for a few weeks after the surgery.