Colectomy is the partial or complete removal of the large intestine, medically known as the colon. The colon plays an important role in the process of digestion. After removing the colon, the remaining parts are stitched together. You must be wondering how will you be passing a bowel if you don’t have a colon anymore?
After the removal of the colon, an ostomy is carried out. In this procedure, the doctor will make an opening in your abdominal wall around which one end of the small intestine will be brought. It will be visible to you. Around this opening, known as stoma, the doctor will attach an external collection bag that will collect the stool.
Also Read: Anatomy of the Colon and Rectum
Why do you need Colectomy?
You can have your colon removed for various reasons. If you have a bowel obstruction or uncontrolled bleeding, the doctor will recommend a colectomy. A colectomy is done for the following reasons-
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis
- Diverticulitis which involves the inflammation of bulging sacs around the colon wall
- Colon Cancer
- Small Bowel Ulcerations
- Radiation to the abdomen
On the basis of the diagnosis of the conditions, specialists will recommend any of the below-mentioned surgeries as treatment.
Before initiating the surgical procedure, surgeons will provide you with some drugs or medicines to cure mild pain and some gastric symptoms in the abdomen. You will be given a general anesthesia that induces sleep so that you are unable to feel any pain during the operation. The surgical team will then proceed with the colectomy. Colon surgery is generally performed in two ways:
Traditional Colectomy- Traditional surgery requires a surgeon to make an incision of about 6 to 8 inches long in the abdominal wall to access the colon. The surgeon uses surgical tools to cut free the intestine from the surrounding tissue and cuts a part of the colon or the entire colon.
Laparoscopic Colectomy. Laparoscopic colectomy is also called Minimally Invasive Colectomy as this involves several small incisions in the abdomen. After that, the surgeon inflates your abdominal cavity with carbon dioxide gas through a tube, known as a cannula which helps them to navigate the laparoscope easily.
They pass a tiny high-resolution camera through one incision into your abdominal cavity and special surgical tools through the other incisions. The surgeon views a video screen in the operating room as the tools are used to cut the colon from the surrounding tissue. The colon is then brought out through another small incision or port in the abdomen. This process allows the surgeon to operate on the colon outside of the body. Once the colon is repaired, the surgeon reinserts the colon through the incision.
Acceptance is the Key
Self- acceptance is the first step towards recovery. For instance, Sheetal Verma, 33 underwent a colectomy followed by a colostomy. She says that her major concern after the surgery was people criticizing or judging her by the way she looks. All her fear went away when she accepted the fact that this is going to help her live better. Hence, self-acceptance is vital for any surgery.
Diet is part of the discussion
You’ll probably receive only IV fluids for the first 2 to 3 days after a Colectomy. Gradually you’ll be shifted to a clear liquid diet. A liquid diet includes broth, fruit juices without the pulp, etc. Then slowly transit to solid food which is easy to digest such as toast and oatmeal.
Foods to eat
Diarrhea, dehydration, and gas are very common after colectomy. You should eat the following to minimize these risks-
- Apple sauce
- Bananas, pears, peaches, and melons
- Boiled white rice
- Cooked beets, spinach
- White bread or toast
- Cream of rice or cream of wheat
- Low-sugar cereals
- Peanut butter
- Cooked fish
- Tender meat
Food to Avoid
Avoid foods that can increase the risk of infection should be avoided.
- Non pasteurized cheese
- Under-cooked meat or fish
- Raw vegetables
- Dried fruits
- Dairy products
- Beans, peas and lentils
- Baked sweets, cakes, pies, cookies
- Very spicy food
- Brown rice
Your life will continue to go smoothly even after a colostomy. You can still go swimming in that one-piece swimsuit of yours or hang out with your friends at the weekends. Doctors recommend to avoid sit-ups or lifting anything heavy for several weeks after the surgery.
In addition to eating the appropriate foods, drink plenty of water to help your body make the stools soft. Chew your food until it has a liquid texture before swallowing, especially meats or large foods. Recovery is of utmost importance after colon surgery. Be sure that all your questions are answered by your doctors about the surgery. Talk to us if you have any queries regarding a colectomy.
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