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Open Colon Resection

What is Colon Resection?

The colon is the large intestine. The colon and the rectum (bowel) function to store and expel digested food and waste. Colon resection or colectomy is the surgical removal of all or a part of the colon.

Colon resection is performed to prevent and treat various medical conditions associated with the colon including colorectal cancer, polyps, intestinal injury, bleeding from the colon, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease or bowel obstruction.  It can also serve as preventive surgery to remove polyps which may cause cancer.


Routine tests such as blood testing, X-ray, MRI or CT-scan are usually performed to diagnose the disease. Your doctor will perform a complete physical examination to make sure you have no conditions that might negatively affect the surgical outcome.

Preparation for Surgery

Your doctor will order specific diagnostic tests before surgery. Talk to your doctor about any medicines you must avoid before the surgery. Do not eat or drink for at least 6-8 hours prior to the procedure. Any other specific instructions will be provided by your doctor.

Open Colon Resection

An open procedure is recommended under certain conditions including:

  • The organs are not able to be clearly visualized with a laparoscope
  • Obesity is present
  • Excessive scar tissue is present due to previous abdominal surgery
  • Large tumors are present

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. A large incision is made on your lower abdomen. The damaged part of your colon is identified and resected by using special surgical instruments. At the end of the surgery, the healthy ends are reattached, the incisions are closed with sutures, and a dressing is applied.

In some cases, the resected part of your colon cannot be joined with the rectum and you will require a colostomy. An opening called a stoma is created by your surgeon on the outside of your body, through which feces pass to be collected into a colostomy bag.

Recovery after Surgery

Following the surgery, your surgeon may recommend that you follow certain measures for a successful outcome:

  • Retain the dressing over the incision for the first few days.
  • Keep the surgical area clean and dry.
  • Pain medicines or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are prescribed to manage pain.
  • Your surgeon may give you activity restrictions, such as not to lift heavy objects.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. You are advised to get out of bed and move around as soon as possible, safely.
  • Regularly follow-up with your surgeon.
  • Begin exercise under the guidance of your doctor.

When to Call a Doctor

Call your doctor if you experience symptoms including:

  • Fever and chills
  • Increased pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Leg pain

Complications of Open Colorectal Surgery

The complications may include:

  • Infection
  • Injury to the uterus, bladder or blood vessels
  • Formation of scar tissue
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Incisional hernia