Colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the colon. When only part of the colon is removed, it is called a partial colectomy. The procedure is also known as a bowel resection.
The colon is part of the body's digestive system. The digestive system removes and processes nutrients ( vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body. The digestive system is made up of the esophagus, stomach, and the small and large intestines.
The first 6 feet of the large intestine are called the large bowel or colon. The last 6 inches are the rectum and the anal canal. The anal canal ends at the anus (the opening of the large intestine to the outside of the body).
Anatomy of the lower digestive system showing the colon and other organs.
Open vs. Laproscopic Procedure
In an open colectomy, one long incision is made in the wall of the abdomen and doctors can see the colon directly. In a laparoscopic-assisted colectomy, several small incisions are made and a thin, lighted tube attached to a video camera is inserted through one opening to guide the surgery. Surgical instruments are inserted through the other openings to perform the surgery.
Colectomy surgery often requires other procedures to reattach the remaining portions of the digestive system to permit waste to leave the body.
Diseases & Conditions Treated
The conditions below may require a partial or total colectomy:
- Bowel obstruction: An emergency in which the colon is blocked and may require colectomy,
- Bowel perforation: A torn colon; an emergency that may require colectomy.
- Crohn's disease: Where conservative measures fail, removing the affected part of the colon may relieve symptoms.
- Colon Cancer
- Familial adenomatous polyposis
- Lynch Syndrome
- Precancerous colon polyps with a high risk of developing colon cancer
- Ulcerative colitis
Risks of Surgery
Colectomy can have serious complications depending on general health of the patient, type of colectomy, and whether the surgical technique required. These can include:
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clots in the legs)
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs)
- Bowel obstruction caused by scar tissue as a result of surgery
- Injury to bladder, small intestines and other nearby organs
- Tears in sutures that were used to reconnect portions of the digestive system