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Colon Surgery

Surgery is a common treatment for a range of benign conditions and cancers affecting either the colon – also called the large intestine or large bowel - or rectum. A colorectal procedure called large bowel resection, or colectomy, is used to treat many of these conditions, and consists of removing all or part of the large bowel or colon.

Today, the vast majority of colorectal procedures are still performed via a large abdominal incision that often extends from the pubic bone to just below the sternum. Open colorectal surgery can be quite painful, involving an increased risk of complications including infection and requiring an extended hospital stay. (1)

A recent study found that between 2003 and 2004, less than four percent of colorectal surgery in the U.S. was performed using minimally invasive technique. The study of the largest all-payer inpatient-care database in the United States comparing open and laparoscopic (minimally invasive) colorectal surgery found that laparoscopic surgery was associated with a lower rate of complications as compared with open resection (18% vs. 22%); a shorter length of stay (6 vs. 7.6 days); a reduced need for skilled care after surgery (5% vs. 11%), and a lower mortality rate (0.6% vs. 1.4%).

Fortunately, there are now more minimally invasive surgical options for colorectal cancer and a range of benign conditions affecting the colon and rectum.

Both the da Vinci and laparoscopic surgery methods for colorectal cancer and benign conditions use state-of-the-art technology to help doctors perform a more precise operation than conventional instrumentation allows.

For most patients, da Vinci and laparoscopic surgery offer numerous benefits over open surgery, including:

  • Better clinical outcomes for cancer control in many cases (2):
  • Quicker return to bowel function (2)
  • Quicker return to a normal diet (2)
  • Significantly less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Less risk of wound infection
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery time

By overcoming the limitations of traditional open surgery, both the da Vinci and laparoscopic procedures offer patients surgery that is less invasive, more precise and provides a faster recovery.

While surgical resection to treat colorectal conditions is a relatively safe procedure, it may not be appropriate or necessary for all individuals and conditions. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.

For more information on da Vinci and laparoscopic surgery at UofL Health, please call 1-800-333-2230.

1. Roxanne Nelson. Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery May Improve Outcomes in Some Patients. Medscape Today. June 28, 2007.

2. Hellan M, Anderson C, Blenhom JD, Paz B, Pigazzi A. Short-Term Outcomes After Robotic-Assisted Total Mesorectal Excision for Rectal Cancer. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 200710;1245