Why would colon surgery be needed?
Surgery on the colon may be needed for conditions such as diverticular disease and inflammatory bowel diseases. One of the most common indications for surgery of the large bowel is cancer. Patients may be diagnosed with cancer before the operation or may present with an acute complication of the cancer, like obstruction or perforation of the large bowel. In the latter case emergency surgery will be required.
What kind of colon surgery may be needed?
As a Specialist General Surgeon, Dr Aikman has extensive experience in various gastrointestinal surgeries. Depending on the cause or condition, different surgeries may be done, including:
Colonoscopy and biopsy
When possible, a colonoscopy (which is a non-surgical endoscopy procedure) may be sufficient to diagnose a particular condition. Using a colonoscopy, Dr Aikman may get a better view of the internal gastrointestinal tract and test any abnormalities found in the colon and rectum, by taking a biopsy of tissue.
Minimally invasive surgery may be used for drainage of an abscess collection secondary to localized perforation of the colon. Thru small puncture-like incisions, using thin laparoscopic tools, the abscess may be drained and washed out to relieve pain and prevent further infection. Laparoscopic surgery for removal of the colon is also becoming more popular. This can be done for benign conditions for instance diverticular disease with recurrent episodes of diverticulitis or bleeding, or for cancer patients. The advantages of minimally invasive surgery is well documented in the literature and include less pain, earlier mobilization, earlier discharge from hospital and earlier return to work.
Laparotomy and resection of part of the colon
In cases where minimally invasive surgery isn't possible, a laparotomy may be needed to perform a partial or complete colon resection. Access is gained via a large midline incision through which the procedure will be done.
In cases where a part of the colon has been operated on and requires time to heal a colostomy may be done temporarily. In more severe cases, after too much of the colon has been resected, a colostomy may be considered as a permanent treatment. During a colostomy, Dr Aikman will create a hole (stoma) in the abdominal wall and will secure the end of the colon to the skin, allowing faecal matter to pass through to a bag, which collects the waste from your body. There are two types of colostomies that can be done, an end colostomy and diverting loop colostomy.
What will recovery entail?
How long your recovery will be after surgery will depend on which colon surgery was done and whether it was done laparoscopically or through a laparotomy. If done laparoscopically, the incisions should be much smaller and thus the pain and recovery time is much less. Mild stomach cramps and gas are normal after any colon surgery and should not be concerning.
Symptoms to look out for include an unusually high fever, chills, vomiting, swelling and bleeding around the incisions, cramping and excessive pain as these are not normal may require additional intervention.
After 3 weeks, Dr Aikman will check your post-surgery incisions and give you instructions for care in the following few weeks. Because the reason for colon surgery is usually due to chronic conditions, surgery may not be the only treatment. You may need to continue with medications to control conditions like diverticular disease, diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel diseases. Of course, a colostomy placement is a life-altering surgery which may require many lifestyle changes. For this Dr Aikman will require a few follow-up consultations.