Colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of your colon. Your colon, part of your large intestine, is at the end of your digestive tract. Overall, in humans, the large intestine is about 1.5 meters (5 ft) long, which is about one-fifth of the whole length of the gastrointestinal tract. This long, coiled, tubelike organ, removes water from digested food. The remaining material, solid waste called stool, moves through the colon to the rectum and leaves the body through the anus.
The large intestine houses over 700 species of bacteria that perform a variety of functions, as well as fungi, protozoa, and archaea. The microbes in a human gut often number in the vicinity of 100 trillion and can weigh around 200 grams (0.44 pounds). This mass of microbes is symbiotic, in that they produce products that the large intestines absorb, thereby creating a mutually beneficial environment. For example, bacteria help to metabolize fatty acids and in turn, they produce Vitamins such as K and Biotin, which are reabsorbed back into the blood. This bacteria is involved in the production of certain antibodies, produced by the immune system as a preventative barrier against infections. This delicate balance is often easily disrupted by poor dietary choices.
Colectomy may be necessary to treat or prevent advanced diseases and conditions that affect your colon, such as cancer, severe diverticulitis, severe bleeding, a severe blockage that cuts off blood supply, or the inflammatory diseases Crohn’s, colitis, and others that may be linked to infections and perforations. Depending on the condition, sometimes a Colectomy is approached as a bowel resection, which may necessitate the removal of not only a portion of the colon but a portion of the small intestines and/or rectum, as well.
As with many diseases, the cause of many colon problems can be wide and varied, running the spectrum from trauma, or medication side effects, to hereditary causes, to a poor diet with a sedentary lifestyle. However, typically, with most disorders of the colon, whatever the source is, the beginning stages usually involve the development of a persistent disruption to the beneficial bacteria and lining of the organ, possible cellular DNA damage to colon cells, and polyps or benign growths. If these conditions continue for too long a period, more serious developments, such as bleeding, blockage, diverticulitis, colitis, or even conversion of benign growths to malignant cancer can progress.
The following are the most common diseases or disorders of the colon:
Major causal factors that may increase your risk of colon disorders and cancer include:
Symptoms for most colonic disorders typically include:
Certain conditions, such as polyps and early stages of lining disruptions and/or perforations, may be small and produce few if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent all diseases, including colon cancer, by identifying and removing abnormal structural developments or polyps before they turn into malignant or metastasized cells.
Because the gastrointestinal tract is so large in the abdominal cavity, and the effects of digestion/ elimination of food can easily overlap other systems and organs, such as bladder, gallbladder, liver, reproductive, or endocrine hormones, and the lymphatic’s foundation for the immune system, the GI tract has been recently coined as the second brain. In its huge effect on the body’s many systems, many symptoms can overlap and become difficult to discern in origin.
Colectomy, whether full or partial, is major surgery, immediately affecting a person’s ability to absorb nutrients and eliminate wastes. As such, Dr. David W. Ford approaches the intestinal problems with a thorough barrage of tests to try to determine if resection can be minimized as much as possible. As mentioned earlier, regular screening tests to help prevent all diseases are recommended. The goal is to identify any abnormal structural developments, colon lining disruptions, polyps, or cancers. If colon cancer is identified, Dr. David W. Ford will work with his patient’s oncologists to apply many treatments that are available to help control it, including surgery, radiation therapy, and drug treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
To begin, however, Dr. David W. Ford will order as the first treatment for GI tract disorders involving the colon, all or some of the following:
Depending on the condition of the colon found, a Colectomy may be recommended, especially if non-surgical treatments, such as antibiotics, steroids, or other immune-supporting drugs, have already been employed. However, because the large intestines are so large and disorders so varied, Dr. David W. Ford tries to limit colon removal to as little as possible, while comprehensively removing the affected areas as thoroughly as possible.
The da Vinci Surgical System allows Dr. David W. Ford to perform minimally invasive Colectomies with clinically supported precision and accuracy. During the robotically assisted colectomy, Dr. David W. Ford makes four small ports or incisions, each less than 1 inch long, in the abdomen. A laparoscope (a tube with a tiny video camera) is usually inserted into your abdomen, just under the ribs, through one of the incisions. Dr. David W. Ford who is seated in the operating room operates via the Surgeon Console that controls the Patient Cart’s robotic devices, including various surgical instruments and the camera. The images gathered from the laparoscope’s camera are high-definition 3D, which are sent to a monitor that Dr. David W. Ford uses to guide the surgical system during the colon removal.
If needed, the abdomen can be inflated with a harmless gas (carbon dioxide), which creates space to allow Dr. Ford to view the inside of the body. Dr. David W. Ford then delicately resects (or frees) the colon and rectum from its attachments, ties off the blood supply, and cuts the segment to separate the part that needs removal. Once the colon (and rectum or anus if necessary) has been dissected free, it is removed through one of the incisions. If a colostomy is needed, it is created with a stoma at one of the incision sites. You may require a drain at the incision site before your incisions are sutured, glued, or surgically clipped, and you're taken to a recovery area. Usually, after 1 - 3 days of observation in the hospital, a patient can be discharged.
Many robotically-assisted surgical systems are FDA approved and in use today. However, many are specially designed for specific organs, procedures, or conditions, such as lung or pulmonary surgeries or knee and other extremity replacement surgeries. The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System is the premier system specialized in colectomies. Dr. David W. Ford is not only an expert board-certified surgeon but also certified in the use of this leading-edge technology.
This robotic platform offers Dr. David W. Ford fully wristed instruments and a 3D high-definition camera with 10x magnification. As a result, colon removal can be done with more precision, and complex situations can be fixed with small incisions. Furthermore, the robot doesn’t get tired and Dr. Ford sits during surgery, so there is less surgeon fatigue. For the patient, this translates into quicker recovery, less pain, and fewer complications.
Other benefits of robotic colectomies include:
Should robotically-assisted surgical laparoscopic surgery be recommended as part of Colectomy treatment, Dr. David W. Ford and his team will have the best state-of-the-art technology at their disposal to usher in your recovery.
Da Vinci surgical systems are comprised of three components: surgeon console, patient-side cart, and vision cart.
The patient-side cart is positioned near the patient on the operating table. It is where the instruments used during the operation move in real time in response to your surgeon’s hand movements at the surgeon console.
A camera provides a high-definition, 3D magnified view inside your body. Every hand movement your surgeon makes is translated by the da Vinci system in real time to bend and rotate the instruments with precision.
The vision cart makes communication possible between the components of the system possible, and supports the 3D High Definition vision system.
"The da Vinci Surgical System allows me to make smaller incisions, resulting in reduced risk of infection, minimize scarring, reduce pain, and accelerate recovery time, allowing my patients to return to normal activities more quickly."
If complications arise with size, location, or amount of colon that needs to be removed during surgery, Open Colectomy may be used. The most common reasons to convert during surgery to an open operation include signs of cancer, unexpected findings, difficult anatomy, a tumor that is larger than expected, and a tumor that is invading into surrounding organs. During an open colectomy, Dr. David W. Ford will make an incision in the abdomen, cut the colon on either side of the diseased segment, and remove the section of the diseased colon through one of the incisions. The two divided ends of the colon are sutured or stapled together in an anastomosis. If the colon cannot be sewn back together, it is brought up through the abdomen to form a colostomy via a stoma. If necessary, a drain may be placed at the incision site, with a few days in the hospital recovering. Once home, it may take four to six weeks to fully recover.
With open colectomy, the body must heal from the large incision in the abdomen that cuts through tissue and muscle. Recovery in the hospital is usually four to five days. In five to eight weeks, you'll be able to return to some of your normal activities. By comparison, people who have a robotic colectomy reduce hospital stay to about 3 days, with normal eating and bowel movements, and are back to work in 2 weeks with less pain.
A liquid diet is usually administered initially, followed by a bland soft diet until the bowels have fully recovered. Patients with Colectomies or Colostomies can live a full, active and healthy life.
Pain management efforts are more successful if you take the medication as soon as you start to feel uncomfortable, rather than waiting until the pain is severe. Should you require a refill, please plan ahead, as we do not call in prescriptions after hours. Scheduled medication, such as narcotics, cannot be called in and must be written in-person.
You may call with any problems, questions, or concerns at 843-797-5151
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Other alternative recommendations, as needed – Use at least one if have not had a BM for 2 days: