If you are researching colorectal surgery, you may have some questions about what the surgery entails and what conditions it is used to treat. This guide offers insight into how colorectal surgery works and the different types of surgery that colorectal surgeons use to help their patients.
Colorectal Surgery: A Definition
What is colorectal surgery?
Colorectal surgery is surgery that deals with disorders of the rectum, anus, and colon. A physician who specializes in this field of medicine is referred to as a colorectal surgeon.
What conditions is colorectal surgery used to treat?
Colorectal surgery is used to treat a variety of conditions. We can look to the University of Michigan’s colorectal surgery program for a sample list of disorders that colorectal surgery may be used to treat:
Colon and rectal disorders
- Bowel obstruction
- Diverticular disease
- Dysmotility/colonic inertia
- Familial adenomatous polyposis
- Hereditary non-polyposis
- Colorectal cancer
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Non-specific and infectious colitis
Types of Colorectal Surgery
There are many types of colorectal surgery. This page will cover:
- Endoscopic surgery
- Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis (J-Pouch)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Surgery
- Internal Sphincterotomy
There are three types of colectomies. Segmental colectomies involve removal of the segment of bowel containing disease. Then, the ends of the bowel are joined to permit healing. Polypectomies occur when a surgeon removes a cancerous polyp from the rectum or colon.
Total colectomies and proctocolectomies are sometimes utilized when a person has one of several diseases. These diseases require removal of the whole colon and anastomosis of the end of the small bowel to the rectum.
During a colostomy, a surgeon creates a hole in a patient’s abdominal wall. Then, the surgeon can pull one end of the colon through the opening. The area where the opening sits is referred to as a stoma– it remains in someone’s abdomen after the surgery. Waste matter exits a colostomy patient’s body through the stoma. The waste is collected in a colostomy bag outside of the body.
- Temporary colostomies occur when the procedure is performed in a way to allow colon reattachment in the future
- Permanent colostomies are more common in cases that involve chronic disease
Endoscopic surgery involves the use of a flexible tube with a light and camera at the tip. The tube, called a scope, helps surgeons see inside of patients’ colons. These surgeries allow surgeons to make minor incisions and perform small procedures without having to make a major incision anywhere on the body. Endoscopic surgery is most commonly used for diagnosing conditions.
Hemorrhoidectomies are usually outpatient procedures. The process involves placing a patient under local anesthesia and then making incisions around the anus to remove hemorrhoids. It is one of the best long-term treatment for chronic hemorrhoid issues.
Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis (J-Pouch)
The J-pouch procedure creates a pouch that begins at the end of a patient’s small intestine and connects to the anus. This surgery restores stool function once someone’s colon has been removed.
The J-pouch procedure is a life-altering procedure. It eliminates the need for a stoma and waste bag in patients who have has colostomies.
- When the pouch is created from the small intestine, a surgeon also creates a temporary ileostomy; patients have this ileostomy for two months while their bowel and their pouch heals
- Two months later, the surgeon performs an operation to reverse the ileostomy; from this point forward, stool collects in the pouch. You can eliminate waste normally
Internal sphincterotomies are commonly used to treat anal fissures. When patients cannot find relief from fissures via nonsurgical methods, doctors may suggest this procedure to help. Internal sphincterotomies aim to cut or stretch the internal sphincter, which helps weaken the muscle. The process minimizes spasms and allows fissures to heal properly while the muscle rests.
Rectopexies are surgical procedures used to treat rectal prolapse. During a rectopexy, surgeons reposition a patient’s internal structures before securing them in their new locations.
- Prior to rectopexy, patients need to follow a bowel-cleansing regiment
- After surgery, it’s important to follow a liquid diet and give the body plenty of time to heal
Resections are surgical procedures used to remove part or all of a diseased tissue or organ. Some examples of resections include:
- Rectal resection: Used to treat distal and anal rectal cancer
- Small bowel resection: Used to treat cancer, polyps, ulcers, benign tumors, and Crohn’s disease
- Local full-thickness resection of the rectum: Used to treat very early stage rectal cancer
Long-Term Care After Colorectal Surgery
What happens after colorectal surgery?
Your exact long-term care following colorectal surgery will depend on your unique circumstances. The reason you had the surgery to begin with will have a big impact on how you spend your time afterward. If your surgery was intended to cure something like an obstruction, you may be cured by surgery and require minimal care afterward.
Other issues, like cancer, require more long-term care and treatment. If you have a chronic condition and will receive colorectal surgery to treat your condition, you may require ongoing monitoring. Those who have had ostomy bags placed may or may not be eligible to go in for a second– reversal– surgery.
Orange County Robotic General Surgery: Colorectal Surgery Experts
If you or someone you love has questions about colorectal surgery, the medical professionals at Orange County Robotic General Surgery are prepared to help. Reach out to our team today to speak to a surgical expert about your colorectal surgery questions and concerns.
Dr. Khosravi, M.D., FACS was amongst the first surgeons in the country to complete an advanced MIS robotic general surgery fellowship. He is committed to helping patients improve their lives through minimally invasive surgery and personalized treatment. Our offices offer a wide range of procedures using traditional, laparoscopic, and robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgical techniques.