Who Needs a Bowel Resection (Partial Colectomy) & How is it Done?|Types, Risks, Recovery Time of Bowel Resection Surgery?

Wondering what is bowel resection (partial colectomy)? It is a surgery done to remove any part of the bowel including the rectum, small intestine, or large intestine. Want to know all about this procedure? Here’s a detailed article to help you understand bowel resection, better.

What is Bowel Resection (Partial Colectomy)?

It is a surgery done to remove any part of the bowel including the rectum, small intestine, or large intestine.

Who Needs Bowel Resection (Partial Colectomy)?

Certain bowel diseases and health conditions can be life-threatening. They can keep the colon or rectum from functioning properly and can also cause symptoms like pain and discomfort. The doctor can recommend a bowel resection to patients suffering from diseases like cancer, Crohn’s disease, severe bleeding, and diverticulitis and blockage. In cancer patients, the amount of bowel which the doctor chooses to remove depends on the location and size of the cancer. Usually, about 1/4 to 1/3 of the colon, and the nearby lymph nodes, are removed during the cancer surgery.

When medicines prove ineffective in keeping Crohn’s disease in control, the doctor can perform bowel resection or partial colectomy to remove part of the patient’s colon to relieve them. However, a bowel resection is not a cure for Crohn’s disease, and about 20% of patients tend to have a recurrence after 2 years.

Bowel resection may also be required in cases of diverticulitis with complications like severe infection or inflammation. If the intestine becomes blocked, food and liquid fail to pass; this hinders proper blood supply to the tissues and triggers their death. So blockages in the intestine need to be removed through bowel resection. When bowel bleeding cannot be stopped, the affected section of the intestine needs to be removed through bowel resection.

What are the Types of Bowel Resection Surgeries?

There are 3 types of bowel resection or partial colectomy surgeries:

  1. Open Resection.
  2. Laparoscopic Resection.
  3. Robot-Assisted Laparoscopic Resection.

The type of bowel resection or partial colectomy surgery the doctor chooses to perform depends on the patient’s condition and, the size and location of the diseased or damaged colon.

What Happens During a Bowel Resection (Partial Colectomy) Surgery?

Bowel resection is a major surgery and the patient needs to get hospitalized for the treatment. On the day of the partial colectomy surgery, the patient is given general anaesthesia and the entire procedure is carried out while the patient is unconscious. During the bowel resection procedure, the doctor detaches the large intestine from the surrounding tissues and organs, and then cuts and removes the damaged or diseased part of the bowel. Then, the healthy ends of the intestines are joined again with sutures or tiny staples. In some cases of bowel resections, the two ends of the intestine do not heal properly. So a colostomy needs to be performed. Colostomy is done to create an opening in the skin, or stoma, for feces to pass into a bag. Most stomas are temporary and a second surgery may need to be carried out after 6 to 12 weeks.

How to Prepare for a Bowel Resection or Partial Colectomy Surgery?

Before the bowel resection surgery, the patient needs to let the doctor know about their medical condition and the medications they are currently on. Certain tests like electrocardiogram, chest x-ray, and blood tests may also need to be conducted. These are important for helping the doctor plan the bowel resection procedure, and also spot any issues which can affect the bowel resection surgery. In the days before the bowel resection surgery, the doctor can ask the patient to stop taking certain supplements and medicines like ibuprofen, and also tell them how to prepare for the bowel resection procedure. For clearing their bowel, the patient would need to avoid eating solid foods on the day before surgery and only have clear liquids, like juices and broth. They would also need to take a laxative on the previous day, and shower with an antiseptic wash on the night and morning before the bowel resection surgery. This is done to prevent infections.

What are the Risks of Bowel Resection or Partial Colectomy Surgery?

Like any surgery, bowel resection or partial colectomy also comes with certain risks or possible complications such as infection, injury, leakage, tissue scarring and hernia.

Procedure: What Happens Post Bowel Resection (Partial Colectomy)?

Post surgery, the patient would need to stay in the hospital for around 2 to 4 days. Medication would be administered to help ease the pain from the bowel resection surgery. The doctor would educate the patient on how to care for their wound post bowel resection surgery. Just after the surgery, the patient would be able to drink fluids and would be able to eat solid foods on the following day. Patient should follow a low-fiber diet for about a month post bowel resection surgery. After 1 to 2 weeks of bowel resection surgery, the patient may be able to resume most of their normal routine, like walking and working. However, patient should avoid lifting anything over 10 pounds and doing intense exercise until allowed by the doctor.

What is Estimated Recovery Period from Bowel Resection (Partial Colectomy) Surgery?

Complete recovery from bowel resection surgery usually takes around 6 weeks. Recovery from a laparoscopic bowel resection surgery is faster, the pain is lesser and the scars are smaller, than with an open bowel resection procedure.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 27, 2018

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