According to GI Alliance, millions of Americans suffer from digestive diseases, including diseases affecting the colon (or large intestine). In fact, the organization of gastroenterologists says digestive diseases are responsible for about a quarter of all surgeries every year in the United States.
At Desert West Surgery, our team treats gastrointestinal diseases with conservative options, like lifestyle changes and medication, whenever possible. But there are conditions where conservative treatments aren’t the best choice. That’s when our team may recommend a type of colon surgery called a colectomy.
A colectomy is a kind of gastrointestinal surgery that removes part of all of your colon. Your colon is a long tube that attaches to your small intestine on one end and your rectum on the other end.
Food passes from your small intestine into your colon at a junction called the cecum. The colon absorbs most of the water from your stool and some electrolytes and nutrients remaining from the earlier digestive processes. The remaining material becomes your stool, stored in the lower part of the colon and the rectum until it’s expelled through your anus.
The colon is shaped kind of like an upside-down U. From the cecum, the ascending colon heads up toward the middle of your belly, then turns and travels across your belly until descending again to your rectum. There are different types of colectomy, depending on what part of your colon is removed:
- Total or complete colectomy removes all of the large intestine
- Partial or subtotal colectomy removes part of the large intestine
- Hemicolectomy removes either the left or right “side” of the colon
- Proctocolectomy removes the entire colon along with the rectum
Once the colon portion is removed, the surgeon reattaches the end of the colon to:
- The remaining part of the colon
- The anus
- An external pouch that captures stool as it’s excreted
The reattachment technique that’s used depends on the type of colectomy your surgeon performs.
When colectomy is recommended
Typically, colectomy is recommended when conservative options fail or as a first-line procedure when conservative treatments aren’t recommended.
Colectomy removes the portion of the colon that’s affected by cancerous growths. The amount of colon that’s removed depends on the extent of cancer, its stage, and other variables.
Diverticulitis happens when tiny pouches or pockets in your intestine lining become inflamed or infected. Diverticulitis can be treated with medicine, but if it becomes chronic or recurring, we might recommend surgery to prevent it from progressing.
Bowel obstruction (a blockage in your colon) is a life-threatening emergency that often requires at least partial removal of your colon.
If you have a condition that causes uncontrollable bleeding inside your colon, a colectomy can remove that part of the colon to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, inflammatory conditions that cause sores and tissue destruction inside the colon. As with colon cancer, the amount of colon tissue that’s removed depends on the extent of the disease.
Sometimes, a colectomy is performed as a preventive measure to prevent cancer in people who have significant risk factors, including genetic conditions and a personal history of multiple colon growths (or polyps).
Our team is skilled in traditional colectomy procedures and surgery, using minimally invasive techniques for faster healing, less tissue damage, and reduced bleeding. We also use the da Vinci® Surgical System for exact results using robotic technology.
Make bowel health a priority
Colectomy is just one tool for helping patients deal with acute and chronic issues affecting the large intestine. To learn more about colectomy and other treatment options we offer, call Desert West Surgery to book an appointment at one of our three locations in Las Vegas, Nevada.