(Hemicolectomy, partial colectomy, or segmental resection)
A colectomy is a surgical procedure used to treat colon diseases. These include cancer,
inflammatory disease, or diverticulitis. The surgery involves removing a portion of
the colon, which is part of the large intestine. When treating cancer, the surgeon
will typically remove the portion of the colon that appears cancerous. He or she will
also remove another small portion on either side of the cancerous part and some nearby
lymph nodes. The remaining parts of the colon are then attached to each other, or
a stoma (an opening to the outside of the body) is created. This is called a colostomy.
A colectomy can be done in two ways:
Open colectomy. The traditional procedure is an open colectomy. This involves a long, vertical incision
on your stomach so that the surgeon can get to the colon.
Laparoscopic-assisted colectomy. The newer form of colectomy is a laparoscopic-assisted colectomy. This involves only
small incisions, and a tiny video camera is inserted into one of the incisions to
help the surgeon see the area being worked on. This may be a choice for some cancers. People
often have less pain and recover quicker from this type of surgery because of the
Reasons for the procedure
A colectomy is usually performed if colon cancer is caught in its earlier stages.
Sometimes even when the cancer has progressed beyond the early stages, a more extensive
colectomy can be a choice.
Your healthcare provider will recommend a colectomy if your medical team has determined
that this surgery will give you the best chance of survival or improving your quality
Risks of the procedure
Colectomy is generally regarded as a fairly safe procedure. Still, as with any surgery,
it carries some possible risks. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare
provider before the procedure.
Some possible risks of a colectomy include:
Reactions to anesthesia
Blood clots in the legs or lungs
Infection at the skin incision site or in the stomach
Scar tissue (adhesions) in the stomach, which might block the intestines
A leak where the intestines are sewn together
Damage to nearby organs
Before the procedure
Here is what to expect before surgery:
Based on your medical condition, your healthcare provider may request other specific
During the procedure
Here is what to expect during surgery:
After the procedure
A colectomy is a major surgical procedure and you will probably be in the hospital
for 3 to 7 days. You'll likely also need to take pain medicine for several days. You
may be allowed some limited liquids as the colon begins to recover.
After a few days, you should be able to start on solid food again. Your healthcare
provider will schedule follow-up appointments to check on your progress.
Be sure you know what to look for in terms of complications or side effects after
surgery, and whom you should call if you notice any problems. Watch your wounds for
any sign of swelling, redness, bleeding, or discharge. Let your healthcare providers
know about any increasing pain, chills or fever, or shortness of breath.