Colectomy

Colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of your colon. Your colon, also called your large intestine, is a long tube-like organ at the end of your digestive system. Colectomy may be necessary to treat or prevent diseases and conditions that affect your colon.

There are various types of colectomy operations:

  • Total colectomy involves removing the entire colon.
  • Partial colectomy involves removing part of the colon and may also be called subtotal colectomy.
  • Hemicolectomy involves removing the right or left portion of the colon.
  • Proctocolectomy involves removing both the colon and rectum.

Colectomy surgery usually requires other procedures to reattach the remaining portions of your digestive system and permit waste to leave your body.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect

Colectomy is used to treat and prevent diseases and conditions that affect the colon, such as:

  • Bleeding that can't be controlled. Severe bleeding from the colon may require surgery to remove the affected portion of the colon.
  • Bowel obstruction. A blocked colon is an emergency that may require total or partial colectomy, depending on the situation.
  • Colon cancer. Early-stage cancers may require only a small section of the colon to be removed during colectomy. Cancers at a later stage may require more of the colon to be removed.
  • Crohn's disease. If medications aren't helping you, removing the affected part of your colon may offer temporary relief from signs and symptoms. Colectomy may also be an option if precancerous changes are found during a test to examine the colon (colonoscopy).
  • Ulcerative colitis. Your doctor may recommend total colectomy if medications aren't helping to control your signs and symptoms. Colectomy may also be an option if precancerous changes are found during a colonoscopy.
  • Diverticulitis. Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the affected portion of the colon if your diverticulitis recurs or if you experience complications of diverticulitis.
  • Preventive surgery. If you have a very high risk of colon cancer due to the formation of multiple precancerous colon polyps, you may choose to undergo total colectomy to prevent cancer in the future. Colectomy may be an option for people with inherited genetic conditions that increase colon cancer risk, such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome.

Discuss your treatment options with your doctor. In some situations, you may have a choice between various types of colectomy operations. Your doctor can discuss the benefits and risks of each.

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