Monday, April 15, 2024

Recovery Time For Colon Surgery

Approaches For Colon Cancer Surgery

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Colon Surgery

Your doctor will determine the best treatment plan for you based on multiple factors, including:

  • The location of the lesions, or cancer, in your colon
  • Whether the cancer has spread

Doctors often remove one-third of the colon during surgery to ensure that they remove all of the cancer. They will also take a sample from the lymph nodes and test it to determine whether the cancer has spread. Today, doctors use two approaches for colon cancer surgery:

  • Open surgery: This is the conventional approach, using an abdominal incision, and may require a longer hospital stay.
  • Minimally invasive surgery: Performed using laparoscopic or robotic tools, this surgery requires a smaller incision and allows for a quicker recovery.

Will Further Surgery Be Required

If a colostomy has been performed as a temporary measure, surgery may be required at a later time to remove the colostomy bag and reattach the necessary parts of the colon. If the patient has an underlying disease, disease progression will determine the course of treatment and whether any further surgeries will be necessary.

What Is Colon Resection Surgery

The colon is a part of the digestive system attached to the large intestines. It is responsible for absorbing water from digested foods and moving waste out of the body. Trauma or disease to the colon can cause dehydration, constipation, or other serious issues. In such cases, colon resection surgery may help.

Colon resection, also called a colectomy, is a surgical procedure used to remove a portion of the colon and reattach the remaining portions of the digestive system to allow the body to remove waste.

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In Your Hospital Room

The length of time youre in the hospital after your surgery depends on your recovery and the exact surgery you had. Most people stay in the hospital for 2 to 4 days. Your care team will tell you what to expect.

When youre taken to your hospital room, youll meet one of the nurses who will care for you while youre in the hospital. Soon after you arrive in your room, your nurse will help you out of bed and into your chair.

While youre in the hospital, your nurses will teach you how to care for yourself while youre recovering from your surgery. You can help yourself recover more quickly by doing the following things:

  • Read your recovery pathway. Your healthcare provider will give you a pathway with goals for your recovery, if you dont already have one. It will help you know what to do and expect on each day during your recovery.
  • Start moving around as soon as you can. The sooner you get out of bed and walk, the quicker you can get back to your normal activities.

You can use your MyMSK Goals to Discharge Checklist to track your progress during your recovery. For more information, read the resource Frequently Asked Questions About the MyMSK Goals to Discharge Checklist.

Read the resource to learn about what you can do to stay safe and keep from falling while youre in the hospital.

Managing your pain

Youll have some pain after your surgery. At first, youll get your pain medication through an epidural catheter, nerve block, or IV line.

Moving around and walking


Surgery For Colon Cancer

Table 2 from Status Post Laparoscopic Loop Sigmoid Colostomy For A ...

Surgery is often the main treatment for early-stage colon cancers. The type of surgery used depends on the stage of the cancer, where it is in the colon, and the goal of the surgery.

Any type of colon surgery needs to be done on a clean and empty colon. You will be put on a special diet before surgery and may need to use laxative drinks and/or enemas to get all of the stool out of your colon. This bowel prep is a lot like the one used before a colonoscopy.

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Recovery Following Bowel Surgery Explained

Full Recovery Can Take up to 3 Months

Jennifer Schwartz, MD, is board-certified in general surgery with a subspecialty certification in bariatric surgery. She serves as an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, and practices in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Surgery for colon cancer may impact your emotional as well as your physical health. Medical teams focus on preparing you for the bowel surgery, but you may feel a little lost or frightened once it’s over. On average, a full recovery can take up to three months, however, this is dependent on a few different factors such as:

Your healthcare provider should be able to provide an indication of how long he or she thinks you will stay in the hospital to recover. The first portion of your recovery occurs in the hospital and usually requires four to five days before you are discharged home.

What Happens When You Have A Colectomy

The specifics of your colectomy surgery will depend on the type of operation youre having and the surgical method being used. The operation will follow a general pattern, though.

General procedure

In general, you can expect your provider to:

  • Put you to sleep under general anesthesia.
  • Make one or more incisions in your abdomen .
  • Carefully separate and remove the affected colon tissue.
  • Connect the healthy bowel ends using staples or sutures, or
  • Create a stoma and redirect your bowel end to the stoma.
  • Close your abdominal incisions.
  • Open vs. laparoscopic/robotic surgery

    Your surgeon may perform your colectomy by traditional open surgery or by minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery.

    • Open surgery means opening up your abdominal cavity through one long incision. This method provides the easiest access to your organs and may be necessary when your case is more complicated, or if you are having emergency surgery.
    • Laparoscopic surgery is performed through several small incisions, using the aid of a tiny video camera called a laparoscope. If you have a laparoscopic/robotic colectomy, your surgeon will begin with a single small incision, which is used to place the laparoscope. They’ll pump gas through the incision to inflate your abdominal cavity for better visibility, then place the camera, which will project your organs onto a video screen. One or more additional small incisions will give your surgeon access to your colon with special tools.

    Colon resection variations

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    What To Expect During Recovery After Colon Cancer Surgery

    Surgery is the most common treatment for colon cancer, and new technology and procedures continue to make it safer and more effective. Virtua surgeons perform colon cancer surgeries using minimally invasive and robotic techniques, which means recovery is quicker and less uncomfortable. However, its still important for you to take some time to rest and regain your strength after the operation.

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    When you wake up from a colectomy, youll likely experience some pain. Your doctor will try to manage this pain with medications.

    Youll likely have a drip into your arm to give you fluids and medications until youre able to eat and drink again. You might also have a catheter inside your bladder to drain urine and a tube going down your nose into your stomach. A nurse will be monitoring your health.

    You will have to stay in the hospital for about 2 to 4 days following the surgery. It may take up to 6 weeks to fully recover. Youll want to avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and contact sports to give time for your incisions to heal.

    Recovery for a polypectomy or local excision is usually much shorter than for a colectomy.

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    What Is A Colostomy

    Sometimes, cancer can block your colon, or the tumor causes a hole in the colon. In these cases, your doctor may not be able to reconnect your colon after a colectomy.

    Instead, the top end of the colon is attached to a hole in the skin of the stomach. This is called a colostomy.

    Your stool will come out of this opening into a bag attached to your skin. A doctor or nurse will teach you how to empty and change your colostomy bag.

    A colostomy is usually temporary. Your doctor may reconnect the two ends of the colon after a few months.

    Most people who have colon surgery wont need a colostomy. Fewer than 10% of people with colon cancer will end up having a permanent colostomy.

    Within 30 Days Of Your Surgery

    Presurgical Testing

    Youll have a PST appointment before your surgery. The date, time, and location will be printed on the appointment reminder from your surgeons office. You can eat and take your usual medications the day of your appointment.

    Its helpful to bring these things to your appointment:

    • A list of all the medications youre taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, patches, and creams.
    • Results of any tests done outside of MSK, such as a cardiac stress test, echocardiogram, or carotid doppler study.
    • The names and telephone numbers of your healthcare providers.

    During your PST appointment, youll meet with a nurse practitioner . They work closely with anesthesiology staff . Your NP will review your medical and surgical history with you. You may have tests to plan your care. Examples are:

    • An electrocardiogram to check your heart rhythm.

    Your NP may recommend you see other healthcare providers. Theyll also talk with you about which medications to take the morning of your surgery.

    Identify Your Caregiver

    Your caregiver plays an important role in your care. Before your surgery, you and your caregiver will learn about your surgery from your healthcare providers. After your surgery, your caregiver will take you home when youre discharged from the hospital. Theyll also help you care for yourself at home.

    For Caregivers

    Complete a Health Care Proxy Form

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    How Should I Prepare For A Colectomy

    Prior to colon resection surgery, your doctors will tell you how to prepare, specifically what you should or shouldnt do. This process involves the cleaning the inside of your bowels with the help of laxatives the day before the procedure, and an enema on the day of surgery. Other medications may also be prescribed. Check with your doctor if you should stop taking any of your regular medications, such as blood-thinners and antibiotics, in order to minimize the risks.

    Dietary changes are also of great importance, meaning that you mustnt eat or drink certain products, such as food high in fiber, alcohol, or any other substance which isnt easily digested.

    What To Expect During A Robotic Colon Resection Surgery

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    Prior to the procedure, the patient will need to undergo a series of tests to determine if they are a good candidate for robotic colon resection surgery. These tests may include a physical exam, blood work, and imaging scans.

    During the procedure, the patient will be under general anesthesia and will not feel any pain. However, they may experience some discomfort during the recovery period. To manage this, the patient may be prescribed medications such as pain relievers and anti-nausea drugs.

    After the procedure, the patient will need to follow their doctors instructions for post-operative care. This may include taking antibiotics, getting adequate rest, abstaining from strenuous activities, and avoiding certain foods.

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    If The Colon Is Blocked

    When cancer blocks the colon, it usually happens slowly and the person can become very sick over time. In cases like these, a stent may be placed before surgery is done. A stent is a hollow expandable metal tube that the doctor can put inside the colon and through the small opening using a colonoscope. This tube keeps the colon open and relieves the blockage to help you prepare for surgery.

    If a stent cant be placed in a blocked colon or if the tumor has caused a hole in the colon, surgery may be needed right away. This usually is the same type of colectomy thats done to remove the cancer, but instead of reconnecting the ends of the colon, the top end of the colon is attached to an opening made in the skin of the abdomen. Stool then comes out of this opening. This is called a colostomyand is usually only needed for a short time. Sometimes the end of the small intestine instead of the colon is connected to a stoma in the skin. This is called an ileostomy. Either way, a bag sticks to the skin around the stoma to hold the stool.

    Once the patient is healthier, another operation can be done to put the ends of the colon back together or to attach the ileum to the colon. It might take anywhere from 2 to 6 months after the ostomy was first made for this reversal surgery to be done due to healing times or even the need to treat with chemotherapy. Sometimes, if a tumor cant be removed or a stent placed, the colostomy or ileostomy may need to be permanent.

    How Do You Prepare For A Colectomy

    Health screening

    Before scheduling a colectomy, your healthcare team will evaluate your fitness for surgery. In addition to a physical exam and health history, this may include:

    Pre-operative counseling

    Your healthcare team will want to make sure you understand everything about the procedure before you sign your consent. Theyll counsel you about:

    • Surgical risks.
    • Living with a colostomy, if youre going to have one.
    • Options for pain management.

    Bowel prep

    When you have surgery on your bowels, its important for them to be empty. Youll need to prepare for this a couple of days in advance. Your healthcare provider may ask you to:

    • Consume only a clear liquid diet.
    • Fast before the procedure .
    • Take a laxative or enema to clear out your bowels, like polyethylene glycol . These bowel preparations come with their own specific instructions.

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    What To Expect After Your Colon Surgery


    In-Hospital CareAfter the operation the nursing staff will closely watch you until you have recovered from the anesthetic. You may even be cared for in the intensive care unit immediately following your surgery.

    The recovery period after colon surgery varies. It usually involves a stay in the hospital from 3-7 days in uncomplicated cases. On return from your surgery you will have a catheter in the bladder to measure and drain your urine.

    After surgery you will be given intravenous fluids through which antibiotics may be given. The drip will remain in place until you are able to drink enough fluids. It general requires 3-4 days before the colon has healed well enough to tolerate anything by mouth. You know the bowel has started to work again when you pass gas and/or have a bowel movement. You will then begin to take liquids by mouth and then solid food.

    It is likely that on your return from surgery you will be wearing tight fitting stockings that are used to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in your legs. In addition, it is very important that you start moving as soon as possible. This helps to prevent blood clots forming in your legs and possibly going to your lungs. This can be fatal.

    WoundYour wound will usually have no visible stitches or staples and is usually covered with a dressing. In certain cases staples or stitches are used to close the incision and will need to be removed at a later date.

    Postoperative Instructions

    What To Expect After Bowel Surgery

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    Youll spend the first few hours after your operation in a special recovery unit, before being transferred to a ward or other unit. You might have some discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off, but youll be offered pain relief as you need it. The two most common types of pain relief you may have are patient-controlled analgesia and an epidural. In patient-controlled analgesia, morphine is delivered directly into a cannula or drip. In an epidural, a pain-relieving medicine is injected into the space that surrounds your spinal cord .

    At first, youll have a catheter to drain urine from your bladder into a bag. You may also have fine tubes running out from your tummy to drain fluid into another bag. These are usually removed after a few days. Youll have a drip in your hand or arm to give you fluids. This can usually be removed after a day or so. Youll be encouraged to eat and drink as soon as you feel ready. Read our FAQ on what to eat after bowel surgery for more information.

    With our health insurance, if you develop new conditions in the future, you could get the help you need as quickly as possible, from treatment through to aftercare. Find out more about Bupa health insurance >

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    Preparing For Bowel Surgery

    If your doctor recommends surgery, theyll go through exactly what to expect with you. This will include what will happen before, during and after your procedure, and the risks and benefits involved. Do ask your doctor if you have any questions or need any more explanation about the procedure. Youll be asked to sign a consent form before the procedure, so its important that you feel fully informed.

    What Is Colorectal Surgery

    Colorectal surgeries are procedures that are done to correct a damaged or disease section of your lower intestinal tract. This may be a result of cancer, a malformation, another disease process, or some sort of injury or infection.

    Colorectal surgeries can be done using a variety of surgical techniques. Your surgeon will work with you to decide which option is best given your overall health and specific medical condition.

    Laparoscopic and robotic surgeries have the lowest rate of complications, but open surgerieswhere a large cut is made in the abdomenare still required in some more complicated cases.

    If you are having a laparoscopic colorectal surgery, it will be done as an inpatient procedure, and you can anticipate several days in the hospitalbased on how well you recover. The following steps may be taken to prepare you for surgery.

    • Prophylactic antibiotics to prevent post-operative infections.
    • Bowel preparation with a solution to help you clear your intestines before surgery.
    • Anticoagulation to prevent post-operative blood clots.

    These surgeries may be performed in both adults and children, although they are more common in adults. Some of the most common reasons for needing colorectal surgery are cancers of the lower gut, but there are noncancerous reasons, as well as emergency reasons, for these surgeries, too.

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