Peninsula Regional Medical Center - Part of Peninusula Regional Health System

Laparoscopic Colectomy-A Typical Patient Experience

Laparoscopic Colectomy
Typical Patient Experience

Removal of part or all of the large intestine may be the prescribed treatment for colorectal cancer, some polyps and other benign conditions like diverticulitis.  Patients meet with their surgeon, decide to proceed with surgery and plan a surgical date.  A clear liquid diet and bowel preparation are prescribed for the day prior to surgery.  The bowel preparation comes in drink form and must be consumed entirely.

The patient reports to the Same Day Surgery Department at Peninsula Regional Medical Center at the appointed time on the day of surgery.   After changing and settling into a holding room, a pre-surgery meeting with both the anesthesiologist and the surgeon occur to answer any last-minute questions and complete any remaining paperwork.    The patient is then brought to the operating room, given sedation medicine and a general anesthetic.

The operation begins with the insertion of several laparoscopic instruments into the abdomen through tiny incisions.  Occasionally, a specialized incision is used which accommodates a surgeon’s hand.  The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas to create a space in which the surgeon can work.  The targeted segment of colon is isolated and removed through a separate 2-3 inch incision or through the hand incision, if that technique was employed.  The two remaining ends of bowel are reconnected.  The gas is removed, the laparoscopic instruments are removed, and incisions closed.    The operation usually takes 2 to 4 hours to complete.

After the operation, patients go to the recovery room for about an hour and then to their room where family may visit.  They resume a liquid diet almost immediately and eat regular food within a few days.  Intravenous or epidural medication is used initially, and is converted to oral pain medication by discharge.  Frequent walking in the hall is encouraged.  Bowel function returns about three days sooner than with traditional colectomy surgery.  Laparoscopic patients can generally expect less pain, earlier discharge and a faster return to work.  Patients can expect to be off work for two to three weeks, and should expect a full recovery and a return to all normal activities in four to six weeks.