Bowel Resection for Colorectal Cancer

Submitted on March 27, 2012

A bowel resection is a surgical procedure that is performed to remove damaged areas of the intestines, colon, or rectum. This procedure might sound extreme but is probably the only hope that a patient would have after a case of colorectal cancer or Crohn’s disease. The former is a type of adenocarcinoma, which means that the cancerous growth is on the epithelial or outer most portion of the affected organ. This condition usually starts off as polyps in the colon and progresses to a point where the cancer can invade other tissues like the tissues of the reproductive system and the liver. Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder of the colon in which the entire colon is perpetually inflamed. Autoimmune diseases are caused by the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking healthy conformant tissue. Most resections are major surgeries but in recent years, the advent of laparoscopy bowel resection techniques has resulted in the entire surgery being done with just a dot of scar to show for it.

Why Bowel Resection is done

Bowel resection with Crohn’s disease is a rather common form of treating the disease. This is required because the inflammation and continuous passing of blood and mucus can nearly kill the patient. Additionally, the presence of Crohn's disease is a precursor to the onset of colorectal cancer.

How to prepare for this test

Being an intestinal surgery, it is required that your bowels are empty and that you do not eat any food for a whole day before the surgery. You might also be given an enema to clean out your colon.

How this test is done

A bowel resection is basically a procedure in which an affected part of the colon is cut away and removed. Additionally, to avoid recurrence, the lymphatic vessels might also be removed. The remaining parts of the colon are then extended to function as the new colon or an artificial one might be used. Bowel resection complications include infections, and other risks post-surgery. In cases where the colorectal cancer has gone into metastasis or has spread to other organs, the colon cancer may require the liver to be involved in the resection as well. This does not mean that the liver will be completely removed but rather that the affected parts of the liver will need to be eliminated. However, there are some cases in which the cancer would have spread so far in the digestive system that it is impossible to operate and this is considered as a terminal case.