Surgical removal of part of the colon. The operation is sometimes called for if a lesion such as a benign or malignant tumor develops in the colon. In many cases, the lesion can be removed without necessitating removal of a length of the colon; however, if recurrent bleeding or infection occurs, a colectomy is needed.

Before the operation, one’s doctor will perform several tests including a barium enema. A colonoscopy will also be performed. About an hour before surgery, one will be given a sedative. The operation is performed under general anesthesia.

An incision is made through the abdomen. Once the bowel is freed from the surrounding tissue, the segment with the lesion is cut out and removed. The cut ends of the remaining bowel are sewn together so that bowel function will be normal. However, if it cannot be reconnected or if the bowel has been obstructed by the lesion, a temporary colostomy will be performed. The wound is closed in layers; a long vertical scar just to the left or right of the middle of the abdomen will remain.

The entire operation lasts about two and a half hours; one will remain in the recovery room about the same amount of time. Sedatives and painkillers will be prescribed to ease the soreness of the abdomen. Antibiotics also will be given to prevent infection. Gradually, one can resume non-strenuous activity; by the second day after the operation, one can walk around. Strenuous activities should be avoided for about a month. If one has a colostomy, one will have to wear a bag to collect fecal waste as it leaves the body. A special diet that prohibits gas-causing foods must be followed.

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