Colorectal Surgery

Patients may need to undergo major abdominal surgery to remove part of the bowel for a variety of conditions including colorectal (bowel) cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and complicated diverticular disease. At Southampton about 80% of patients are able to have a laparoscopic (keyhole) bowel resection. This compares nationally where only about 30% of surgeons are able to offer keyhole surgery.

Keyhole surgery usually involves three or four small holes on the abdomen (tummy) through which a camera and various instruments are placed. A small 4 or 5 centimetre incision is then made to remove the affected piece of bowel before it is joined back together. Occasionally patients may require a stoma bag (colostomy or ileostomy). This is usually temporary to allow the bowel to heal but can be permanent when it is not possible to join the bowel back together.

Patients spend the first night in hospital after their operation on the High Care Unit before transferring back to their private room. Patients can usually expect to go home within 4 days after their operation. Major complications such as a leak from the join in the bowel are serious but fortunately uncommon. The advantages of keyhole surgery are a much faster recovery time and shorter hospital stay, with fewer respiratory (chest) complications, less risk of infections, less abdominal scarring and quicker return to normal activities.

Conditions explained

Conditions explained

Use our handy guide to medical terminology to help demystify your treatment.

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