With the use of “minimally invasive” approaches for colon resection, patients are finding a quicker recovery time and shorter hospital stay. Additionally, because there is much less post-operative pain, patients are able to take fewer narcotics for pain control in the post- operative period.
With the minimally invasive surgery, segments of the colon or the entire colon can be removed utilizing the laparoscope. The laparoscopic portion of the operation is performed with the aid of a scope in a ½” incision around the belly button. The position of other incisions, or ports, is dependent on the specific operation that is performed. Your surgeon will give you specific details about incision locations at your preoperative appointment.
Another new innovation that our surgeons use is called the hand assist technique. This is used for difficult operations that cannot totally be done using the laparoscope. It allows the surgeon to put his hand in the abdomen through a small incision while the remainder of the operation is done laparoscopically. This allows the best of both open and laparoscopic surgery.
Laparoscopic colon resection is not usually performed for known colon cancer because the scientific data is not there to support that the cancer survival rate is the same as with an open operation. In the near future, we expect the data to support laparoscopic resections for cancer and we will then change our practices accordingly.
Risks of colon resections include but are not limited to infections, damage to internal organs including the ureter (tube that drains the kidney of urine), breakdown or narrowing of the hook up, and recurrence of the cancer. One of the most problems after colon cancer surgery is frequent bowel movements. This usually resolves over time and does not usually require long-term medical treatment. Your surgeon will discuss these issues with you at the time of your preoperative appointment.