The colon (large intestine) and rectum make up the lower part of the digestive tract. There are many disorders and diseases of the colon and rectum, and hundreds of thousands of surgeries are performed annually for these diseases. Classically, these surgeries involve a long and difficult recovery period due to the large abdominal incision required to remove a part of the colon or rectum. This long and difficult recovery period is improved by performing the operation laparoscopically. Laparoscopic colon and rectal surgery can be performed for all of the same diseases and conditions as open surgery. These conditions include colon polyps, colon cancer, diverticular disease (diverticulosis, diverticulitis), Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD (Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's disease), rectal polyps, rectal prolapse, and rectal cancer.
Laparoscopic colon resections are performed through a few small incisions (all < 1 inch) and use a laparoscope. The laparoscope functions as a camera to visualize and magnify the abdominal contents to monitors outside of the body. Long thin instruments are used to remove a portion of the colon or rectum in a similar fashion as the open operation. Once a portion ot the colon or rectum are removed the remaining ends may be reattached with staplers and sutures to re-establish continuity of the gastrointestinal tract.
The advantages of a laparoscopic colon and rectal surgery include a smaller incision, less pain, a shorter hospital stay, a lower chance of future hernia formation, and a faster recovery and return to normal activities.
A liquid diet is started 2 to 3 days after surgery and advanced as tolerated. Patients are encouraged to get out of bed the day of surgery and ambulate on a daily basis. The majority of patients spend approximately 3 days in the hospital depending upon return of their bowel function. Most return to work 2 weeks after surgery depending upon the physical requirements of their occupation. Patients return approximately two weeks after surgery for routine follow-up with their surgeon.