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 AgreementYou 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.
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.
The week before your surgery:
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
- Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- You may need blood tests before your surgery. You may also need an ultrasound or CT scan. Talk to your healthcare provider about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.
The night before your surgery:
Ask about directions for eating and drinking. You may need a laxative solution or an enema to clean out your colon before surgery.
The day of your surgery:
- Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
What will happen:
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.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your surgery.
- You have a fever.
- You get a cold or the flu.
- You have bleeding from your rectum or see blood in your bowel movement.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
Seek Care Immediately if
- You have bleeding that does not stop.
- You have trouble breathing.
- You have severe stomach pain.
- Your stomach is swollen.
- You cannot eat without vomiting.
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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.