So, you’re considering laparoscopic colon surgery for your gastrointestinal disorder. That’s great news! Well, as great as surgery can be. Laparoscopic is a minimally invasive approach to complex colon surgeries. Unlike traditional surgical approaches that require large incisions, laparoscopic surgery uses advanced technologies and techniques, and micro tools to perform surgical procedures via 4 or 5 small incisions (about a quarter inch in length).
During laparoscopic surgery, a tiny camera is used to view the surgery site instead of a large, open incision. The camera captures high quality imaging of the patient’s internal organs and magnifies them on a monitor for the surgeon’s reference.
The most noteworthy advantages of having laparoscopic colon surgery instead of traditional surgery is reduced pain and recovery time. In many cases, patients are able to go home within a few days, and may be able to return to solid food more quickly. Laparoscopic colon surgery also produces less scarring and allows patients to resume work and activities much sooner.
In fact, a 2010 study of laparoscopic colon surgery in patients with colon cancer found that even in high risk patients, the procedure was highly effective. Likewise, a 2012 study involving 85,712 patients found that (in general) laparoscopic colon surgery had better outcomes than open colectomy.
Are You a Candidate for Laparoscopic Colon Surgery?
Laparoscopic colon surgery may not be suitable for individuals with certain pre-existing conditions, including:
- Dense scar tissue from prior abdominal surgery
- Bleeding problems
- Large tumors
- Low organ visibility
To determine if laparoscopic colon surgery is a viable option for you, you must first schedule a consultation with your physician. During your consultation, a thorough medical history will be taken as well as a physical exam. Two tests may be recommended to reach a diagnosis:
1) Colonoscopy: A soft, flexible tube with a tiny video camera that is inserted through the anus into the large intestine.
2) Barium enema: A white fluid is flushed into the rectum while being observed via X-ray and other screening methods.
Pre Laparoscopic Colon Surgery
In preparation for laparoscopic colon surgery, you may undergo blood work, a chest x-ray and electrocardiogram (EKG). A blood transfusion or blood products may also be prescribed depending on your condition. You will be asked to shower and drink a special fluid to clean out the bowels before surgery. The cleaning out of the bowels may require several days of drinking clear liquids, laxatives and enemas prior to surgery. You may also be prescribed an oral antibiotic to help fight infection.
It is extremely important you refrain from eating or drinking anything 12 hours prior to surgery. You will also be required to stop taking aspirin, blood thinners, Vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory medications several days before your operation.
Post Laparoscopic Colon Surgery
Following post operative instruction is critical to your recovery. Your surgeon will instruct you to resume activity the day after surgery to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness. Because your digestive system will be healing, you will not be permitted to eat solid food right away. Instead, you will be placed on a clear liquid diet, and instructed to slowly work your way back to solid food over the span of a couple weeks. Within 1 to 2 weeks, you may resume normal activity, including working, showering, driving, walking up and down stairs and sexual intercourse. A follow-up appointment is customary at least two weeks after surgery to check incision sites and ensure your body is healing properly.
As with all types of surgery, certain risks or complications are possible, including:
- Leaking where the colon was reconnect
- Injury to surrounding organs
- Blood clots
If you are interested in learning more about laparoscopic colon surgery for your gastrointestinal condition, contact a licensed and experienced laparoscopic surgeon. He or she will conduct a full evaluation of your condition before deciding if this minimally invasive approach is right for you.