Complications of right hemicolectomy surgery

Updated February 21, 2017

The colon (also called the large intestine or bowel) as a long tube connected to the digestive tract. Colon surgeries can treat a variety of colon ailments, including cancer, chronic diseases, perforations or blockages. Some people facing a serious risk of future colon cancer may even opt for colon surgery as a preventive measure.

Types of Colon Surgeries

The bowel consists of three sections, with the right or ascending colon on the right side of the abdomen, the transverse colon extending across the centre area, and the descending colon on the left. Depending on the location of the problem, a surgeon may perform different types of colectomy, or colon removal. A hemicolectomy involves removal of the left or right side of the colon.

Right Hemicolectomy

A right hemocolectomy involves removal of half of the bowel, then attaching the remaining section to the small intestine in a procedure known as an anastamosis. Many colon surgeries are performed using a technique called laparoscopy to help patients recover more quickly and with less scarring. The Comprehensive Center for Laparoscopic Surgery describes this minimally invasive procedure: Instead of making a large incision, the surgeon views his work on a video screen from cameras attached to minuscule telescopic tubes called canulas. The canulas enter the body through small incisions and the surgeon performs the entire procedure through these smaller incisions.


Possible complications from a right hemicolectomy include infection of the wound or chest area, bleeding, bowel damage and blood clots. The clots, which tend to form in the leg, can present a serious danger if they move to the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism. Leakage at the site of the join may occur as well, but laparsocopy runs no greater complication rate than standard surgery.

Complication Patterns

The type of complication seems to depend on the underlying cause of the bowel problem. A study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that patients with underlying irritable bowel syndrome had more abdominal complications, mainly due to infection, while patients with underlying cancer, who also tended to be older than the other group, experienced more system-wide complications.


A surgeon may offer the option of a bypass procedure instead of a right hemicolectomy. According to the National Health Service, a bypass does not address the structural problem in the bowel; instead, it simply reattaches one part of the bowel to a different section, allowing wastes to travel freely through the system.

Patients should expect some recovery issues following a hemicolectomy. The bowel usually takes several days to resume performance, and at first the patient may experience slight bleeding. Bowel irregularity may require some modifications to the diet.

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