Surgery of the Colon and Rectum


Berkshire General Surgeons offer the latest and most innovative techniques including laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery
for a number of bowel complaints including cancer, diverticular disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The bowel is a long tube. Bowel surgery may involve
removing a section of this tube when it is affected by cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.

When surgery is necessary to treat bowel cancer, it involves physically removing the affected section of bowel together with healthy bowel on either side to ensure all the cancer cells are removed. The two ends then may be joined together with stitches or staples. The amount of bowel removed depends on the position and size of the cancer and how advanced it is. In some bowel operations, it is not possible to join the ends of the bowel together, and in this case a stoma will be required (when the bowel opens onto the abdominal wall). Lymph nodes near the bowel are usually removed as well. These are small bean-shaped organs that are part of the 
immune system. These are usually taken out because cancer is able to spread to the lymph nodes and the laboratory is then able to determine whether this has happened.

Surgery on the bowel is carried out under general anaesthetic and is incorporated into an Enhanced Recovery Programme to enable quicker return to full activities. When a laparoscopic (keyhole) approach is also possible this means that the stay in hospital may be as little as two days, although four days is usually allowed for. Almost all bowel operations are approached laparoscopically. If successful, it involves a number of small incisions. Sometimes it is not possible because of scar tissue from previous surgery, abnormal anatomy, or the nature of the disease process. In this case, a conventional open procedure is carried out. Although the surgery is the same on the inside, a longer incision is required and as this is more painful, the post-operative recovery is likely to be longer.

There are a number of different bowel operations and your surgeon will discuss in detail the relevant procedure in your case.

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