Colon resection surgery is one of the fastest-growing procedures in the United States. More than 600,000 surgical procedures related to the colon are performed in the U.S. each year.
The most common reasons for colon resection surgery are:
- A pre-cancer that cannot be removed without surgery
- A large polyp
- Inflammation of the colon / inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Diverticulitis of the colon
- Diverticulosis of the colon
What Are the Surgical Options for Colon Resection Surgery?
Colon resection surgery, also called a colectomy, can be performed in one of three ways: open, laparoscopic, and robotic.
When an open colectomy is performed, the patient usually receives an incision in the middle of their abdomen. This incision is typically 12-18 inches long and is called a laparotomy. This incision allows for the surgeon to reach inside, identify the portion of the colon that needs to be removed, and remove it.
The surgeon then reconnects the patient’s remaining colon, provided the patient does not require a colostomy bag or an ileostomy bag. This is the traditional and older approach to the procedure. Today, up to 60% of bowel resections are still performed as open surgeries.
Laparoscopic Colon Resection Surgery
Laparoscopic colon resection surgery is a minimally invasive approach to a colectomy and has been available to patients for about 30 years.
In this procedure, the surgeon is able to perform the operation by using 4 to 5 smaller incisions. The surgeon will operate through these incisions—each being around 2 to 3 inches.
A laparoscope is inserted through a cannula and allows the surgeon to see inside the patient’s body on a monitor in the operating room. They are then able to use cannulas in the other incisions to remove or operate on the problem portion of the colon and then reconnect the healthy sections.
Robotic Colon Resection Surgery
Robotic surgery for the colon has been around for nearly 20 years and is typically performed through five tiny incisions.
The robot arms perform the same operation that surgeons would perform during an open procedure, where the surgeon identifies the portion of the colon that needs to be removed.
After the problem portion has been removed, the reconnection can be performed with the help of the robot. Alternatively, one of the small incisions is enlarged, and the colon is removed, reconnected, and inserted back into the patient—all through an incision that is 3-5 centimeters in length.
What Should a Patient Expect After a Colon Resection Surgery?
Colon resection is considered a major surgery, and recovery time can vary based on how it is performed (open vs. minimally invasive).
Recovery time for an open operation is roughly a week in the hospital, followed by about 4-6 weeks of recovery at home.
For a minimally invasive operation, the typical recovery is 2-3 days in the hospital, followed by 2 weeks of recovery at home.
Robotics Can Help Improve Colon Resection Surgery
Over the past several years, the use of robotics has increased the number of patients who are treated with minimally invasive approaches by converting both laparoscopic and open procedures to a robotic approach.
From a surgeon’s perspective, the most common challenges associated with colon procedures is the ability to separate the colon away from other important organs to avoid injury, and the ability to reconnect the colon to ensure the connection does not leak.
Surgical robotic technologies allow for increased precision for the surgeon while they operate, increasing the likelihood that the surrounding organs are not at risk for injury. Additionally, surgeons can better plan the reconnection of the colon to help ensure the best possible connection is made.