Location Map FAQ
St. Maarten Medical Center
A colectomy is the removal of a section of the large intestine (colon) or bowel. This operation is done to
treat diseases of the bowel, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; and colon cancer.
Symptoms may include diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, chills, weakness, or loss of
appetite and/or weight loss, or bleeding.
There may be no symptoms.
Open colectomy—An incision is made in the abdomen and the section of the
diseased colon is removed. The two
divided ends of the colon are sutured (sewn) or stapled together in an anastomosis. If the colon cannot be
sewn back together, it is brought up through the abdomen to form a colostomy.
Laparoscopic colectomy—A light, camera, and instruments are inserted
through small holes in the abdomen to
remove the diseased colon or tumor.
Some diseases of the colon are treated with antibiotics, steroids, or drugs that affect the immune system.
There are different types of conditions and diseases that may affect the intestines:
There are different procedures to treat diseases of the bowel and intestines:
Bring a list of all of the medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements that you are taking. Your medication may have to be adjusted before your operation. Some medications can affect your recovery, blood clotting, and response to the anesthesia. Most often you will take your morning medication with a sip of water.
Let your anesthesia provider know if you have allergies, neurologic disease (epilepsy, stroke), heart disease, stomach problems, lung disease (asthma, emphysema), endocrine disease (diabetes, thyroid conditions), or loose teeth; if you smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs, or take any herbs or vitamins; or if you have a history of nausea and vomiting with anesthesia.
If you smoke, you should let your surgical team know. You should plan to quit. Quitting before your surgery can decrease your rate of respiratory and wound complications and increase your chances of staying smoke free for life.
You may stay in the hospital for about 2 nights after a laparoscopic repair or longer after an open colectomy. You may have a catheter in place in your bladder to measure and drain your urine for a few days. Severe nausea, vomiting, or the inability to pass urine may result in a longer stay.
An intravenous line (IV) will be started to give your fluids and medication. For general anesthesia, you will be asleep and pain free. A tube will be placed down your throat to help you breathe during the operation.
You will be moved to a recovery room where your heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and urine output will be closely watched. Be sure that all visitors wash their hands.
Movement and deep breathing after your operation can help prevent postoperative complications such as blood clots, fluid in your lungs, and pneumonia. Every hour, take 5 to 10 deep breaths and hold each breath for 3 to 5 seconds.
When you have an operation, you are at risk of getting blood clots because of not moving during anesthesia. The longer and more complicated your surgery, the greater the risk. This risk is decreased by getting up and walking 5 to 6 times per day, wearing special support stockings or compression boots on your legs, and, for high-risk patients, taking a medication that thins your blood.
If general anesthesia is given or if you need to take narcotics for pain, it may cause you to feel
different for 2 or 3 days, have difficulty with memory, or feel more tired. You should not drive, drink
alcohol, or make any big decisions for at least 2 days.
If you follow an enhanced recovery protocol, the aim is to return to a normal diet as soon as possible.
Right after surgery, you will be able to drink water and be provided with anti-nausea medication if you
need it. On postoperative day 1, you can eat a normal diet. IV fluids will continue for 1 to 2 days
after the surgery. For up to 4 weeks, a low-residue/low-fiber diet
is recommended to reduce the amount and frequency of stools. This reduces trauma to the healing
intestinal reconnection. Continue to drink about 8 to 10 glasses of fluid per day. A dietician can help
you understand your diet.
After surgery, you will sit in a chair. The next day, you should be up and walking the hallway. Your pain
should be managed with pain medication. Get up and walk every hour or so to prevent blood clot
You may be able to resume most normal activities in 1 or 2 weeks. These activities include showering,
driving, walking up stairs, working, and engaging in sexual activity.
You will not be able to lift anything over 10 pounds, climb, or do strenuous activity for 4 to 6 weeks
In the first 2 weeks, your bowel movements may be more frequent and looser than usual until you fully
resume eating solid food. Avoid straining with bowel movements. Be sure you are drinking 8 to 10 glasses
of fluid each day.
The amount of pain is different for each person. The new medicine you will need after your operation is
for pain control, and your doctor will advise how much you should take. You can use throat lozenges if
have sore throat pain from the tube placed in your throat during your anesthesia.