Long-Term Effects of Subtotal Colectomy

When you are having bowel troubles, there are often many surgical solutions. The problem is that many doctors tend to explain things with minimal information and a lack of understanding that average people do not always understand what may be going on.

When subtotal colectomy is thrown on the table as a solution for your bowel problems, you are likely going to wonder how your life is going to be affected as a result of this surgical procedure.

When is subtotal colectomy an option?

Subtotal colectomy is often chosen for people who have illnesses or diseases that are having a direct affect on normal bowel function. Disease like Crohn's and multiple sclerosis unfortunately have a direct affect on how the bowels work. There are also other instances that may have an effect on the bowels, and can include colon cancer and colonic inertia, which is the occurrence of chronic or severe constipation. Always make sure that your doctor has ruled out pelvic floor dysfunction as a possibility for your issues.

The Process Explained

A subtotal colectomy involves the removal of a portion of the colon, which is a part of the large intestine. The surgeon removes the troubled portion of the colon as well as a small amount on either side of the colon. What is left of the colon, if any, is then reattached to the remaining portions. In most cases of subtotal colectomy for cancer removal, the surrounding lymph nodes are also removed.

Immediately Following Surgery

Once the surgery is completed and you are stitched back up, you will most likely be required to stay in the hospital for about three days to ensure no immediate dangers from infection or internal bleeding. For the first day or two, you will not be allowed to eat solid foods. Then, you can gradually move to regular eating.

At Home

Once you have been released from the hospital and you return home, you can expect your recovery time to be about three to six weeks, provided that you don't experience any problems. You are likely going to experience a little pain and discomfort as the healing process continues. You should be able to resume eating normally, unless you are instructed otherwise.

Long-term Effects

The American Cancer Society states that the most common long term effect of the subtotal colectomy surgery is a change in bowels. You may discover that you are suddenly having constant diarrhoea, or that you are going more frequently. The average patient can have bowel movements four to seven times per day. You may also experience a bladder problem (either the inability or the increase of frequency to urinate), and scar tissue that can become painful or cause your abdominal layers to stick together.

Complications can occur, as with any type of surgery. These include a separation of the reattached portions, rectal bleeding, blood clots in the legs, and infection at the suture site. These complications require immediate medical attention.