(Hemicolectomy, partial colectomy, or segmental resection)
A colectomy is a surgical procedure used to treat colon cancer. The
surgery involves removing a portion of the colon, or large intestine,
usually about one-third to one-fourth of it. The surgeon will typically
remove the portion of the colon that appears cancerous, as well as
another small portion on either side of the cancerous part and some
nearby lymph nodes. The remaining parts of the colon are then attached
to each other.
A colectomy can be done in two ways. The traditional procedure is
an open colectomy, in which a long incision is made on your abdomen to
give the surgeon adequate access to the colon. The newer form of
colectomy is a laparoscopic-assisted colectomy, in which only small
incisions are made, and a tiny camera is inserted into one of the
incisions to help the surgeon see the area being worked on. This may be
an option for earlier stage cancers.
Reasons for the procedure
A colectomy is usually performed if colon cancer is caught in its
earlier stages. Sometimes even when the cancer has progressed beyond the
early stages, a more extensive colectomy can be an option.
Your health care provider will recommend a colectomy if your
medical team has been determined that this surgery will give you the
best chance of survival.
Risks of the procedure
Colectomy is generally regarded as a fairly safe procedure, and
there are rarely any major complications from it. Still, as with any
surgery, it carries some possible risks. Be sure to discuss any concerns
with your health care provider before the procedure.
Some possible risks of a colectomy include:
Before the procedure
Based on your medical condition, your health care provider may request other specific preparations.
During the procedure
After the procedure
A colectomy is a major surgical procedure and you will probably be
in the hospital for three to seven days. You'll likely need to take pain
medication for two to three days, and you'll also receive nutrition
from an IV drip. You may be allowed some limited liquids as the colon
begins to recover.
After a few days, you should be able to start on solid food again.
Your doctor will schedule follow-up appointments to check on your
progress. Most people who have a colectomy have a good prognosis and can
expect to live a normal life after their recovery.