Bowel surgery is a general term for surgical procedures performed on the small intestine or large intestine. Doctors may recommend surgery when diseased or damaged intestines interfere with normal gastrointestinal function and when the diseased tissue is life threatening.
Many conditions can cause damage to the intestines that can be treated with bowel surgery. Some of these conditions include the following:
- Colon cancer
- Intestinal blockage caused by scar tissue or birth defects
- Crohn’s disease or other conditions that cause inflammation, bleeding, infection or ulcers in the small intestine
- Carcinoid tumors
- Benign (non-cancerous) tumors
- Precancerous polyps
- Diverticular disease
- Volvulus (twisting of the bowel)
- Ulcerative colitis
- Bleeding (diverticulosis)
- Bowel obstruction from hernia
At South Mississippi Surgeons, we offer the state of the art diagnostic radiological techniques to help make the right diagnosis of your bowel problem. We offer colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, CT scan, MRI and barium studies. Our surgeons work closely with radiologists to ensure that patients receive prompt service and diagnosis of their bowel problem.
Depending on the specific condition and the severity of the damage, doctors may recommend different bowel surgery procedures to treat the patient.
For example, patients with disease or damage limited to a small section of the bowel may require to surgery to remove that small section of the intestine and reconnect the tissue. Other patients with extensive disease/damage may need a proctocolectomy to remove the entire colon and rectum.
These are some of the more common bowel surgery procedures that may be recommended for patients with damage or disease in the small or large intestine:
- Small bowel resection – surgery to remove all or part of the small intestine
- Large bowel resection – surgery to remove all or part of the large intestine (total colectomy, subtotal colectomy or laparoscopic colectomy).
- Proctocolectomy – removal of the entire colon (large intestine) and rectum
- Abdominal perineal resection – removal of the sigmoid colon, rectum and anus
- Hartman procedure is done when the surgeon is unable to connect the two ends of bowel because of presence of infection. In such a case, the proximal bowel is brought out as a colostomy and the other end is left inside the abdomen. The colostomy is then reversed in a few months
Depending on the patient’s specific condition, the gastrointestinal tract may be reconstructed in several ways after one of the procedures above. These are the bowel surgery procedures that may be used to reconstruct the bowels after the diseased tissue is removed:
- The healthy tissue in the remaining intestine can be connected to restore bowel function
- Colostomy (large intestine) or ileostomy (small intestine) surgery creates a stoma (drain) on the abdomen to remove waste from the GI system In many cases, the stoma is temporary and bowel is reconnected once the infection subsides.
While bowel surgery may cause a change in the patient’s day-to-day life, it is often a life-saving measure needed to restore gastrointestinal function.