Colectomy

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A colectomy is surgery to remove part or all of your colon. The colon, or large intestine, is the long tube that connects your intestine with your anus.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nearby organs, such as the small intestine or bladder, may be damaged. You may get an abscess near your incision. Your colon may leak and cause an infection in and around your intestines. You may develop a serious infection in your blood. An adhesion (buildup of tissue) may block your colon. You may need another colectomy. You may get a blood clot in your limb. This may become life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • Antibiotics may be given to help prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your surgery:

You may have several small incisions or one long incision in your abdomen. Your surgeon will use tools to cut your colon away from the surrounding tissues. Part or all of your colon will be removed. Your surgeon may attach the remaining parts of your colon with stitches. If your entire colon and rectum are removed, your small intestine will be attached to your anus. Your surgeon may attach your colon or small intestine to an opening in your abdomen. This allows bowel movement to leave your body through the opening. Your incision will be closed with stitches or staples and covered with a bandage.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. You will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will then be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.

  • You will be able to eat and drink gradually. You will begin with ice chips or clear liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your stomach does not become upset, you may then eat soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once you can eat soft foods easily, you may slowly begin to eat solid foods.

  • You may need to wear pressure stockings or inflatable boots after surgery. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. The boots have an air pump that tightens and loosens different areas of the boots. Both of these improve blood flow and help prevent clots.

  • A Foley catheter is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out. Caregivers will remove the catheter as soon as possible to help prevent infection.

  • Medicines:

    • You may get pain medicine through an IV attached to a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pump. The pump is set so you can give yourself small amounts of pain medicine when you push a button. Your pump may also give you a constant amount of medicine, in addition to the medicine that you give yourself. Tell your healthcare provider if your pain is severe, even with the pain medicine.

    • Bowel movement softeners make it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to prevent constipation.

    • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. They make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Colectomy (Inpatient Care)

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