A Hemicolectomy – colon removal surgery, is one in which a side of the colon is removed. There are two types of hemicolectomy, they are right and left colectomy.
A right hemicolectomy is a surgical procedure where the right side of the colon is removed and the small intestine is attached to the part of the colon that’s remaining.
A left hemicolectomy is the same as right colectomy but the only difference is that in this procedure the left side of the colon is removed. The left side of the colon is attached to the rectum and during the procedure the surgeon attaches the transverse colon directly to the rectum.
The procedure is carried out for the following reasons:
The doctor will advise a full physical examination before the surgery, to check for any other complication that needs to be addressed before surgery.
The doctor will inform the patient about the requirement of having a ‘stoma’ after the surgery.
A stoma is an opening in the belly wall that is made during the surgery by the doctor in order for the waste to leave the body, which doesn’t happen if there is no bowel movement through the rectum.
The waste from the stoma collects in the colostomy bag.
If you have a prior medical condition and you are taking medicines prescribed by a doctor please make sure you inform the surgeon beforehand.
If you have a habit of smoking you will be advised to stop smoking a few weeks prior to the date of the operation as smoking may result in other complications or may cause infections resulting in failure of the procedure. Quitting smoking enhances the chances of success.
The doctor will prescribe laxatives a few days before the surgery; this will help in clearing out the digestive tract.
The patient is required to stop drinking or eating anything before 12 hours of the surgery.
The surgery is carried out under the influence of general anesthesia. The patient will be put on IV drip so that there is a constant nutrient supply to his/her body.
The doctor will either perform a minimally invasive surgery or an open procedure depending upon the condition of the patient.
In a laparoscopic surgery, once the patient is asleep the process begins by making incisions near the belly button and a small device is inserted which is called a port; it creates an opening that will used be filled with gas (carbon dioxide) in the abdomen region.
Through these incisions a Laparoscope (a Laparoscope is a small instrument with a narrow tube which has light source and camera at the end of the tube) is inserted and using the Laparoscope’s video camera the surgeon is able to locate the affected body part and through the other incisions that are made the damaged/affected part (in this case either the right or the left colon is removed) is removed with the help of surgical equipment; after this the incisions are sealed using a surgical glue or staples.
After the colon is removed, the remaining parts are reconnected. The procedure takes 2 to three hours and if there are any complications during the surgery it may take longer.
A hemicolectomy is a major surgery and the patient won’t be discharged immediately.
The stay at the hospital depends on the doctor’s opinion and for how long he would like to keep the patient under his supervision.
If it’s a laparoscopic approach then, one might feel nauseated post-surgery, this might be due to anesthesia administered for the purpose of the surgery.
Post-surgery one might feel shoulder pain because of the gas that was pumped in during the surgery, which will go away within 48 hours.
The recovery time for Laparoscopic surgeries is very less and one can return to normal life within days of surgery, but they should avoid heavy lifting. The soreness after the surgery lasts for 48 hours and it can extend up to weeks depending upon the individual. In case of hemicolectomy the wounds might heal faster but the overall recovery will take a lot of time.
Before the discharge the doctor will make sure that there are no infections or post-surgery complications.
The patient will be prescribed ibuprofen to reduce pain and docusate to prevent constipation and help in smooth bowel movements.
After returning home the patient is advised strict bed rest. Avoid heavy lifting for the next few weeks.
The patient will also be asked to follow a specific diet which will require him/her to consume soft or liquefied foods, including mashed potatoes, smoothies, and soups.
It is better to contact the doctor if complications like blood clots, excessive pain in the abdomen, high fever, pus and blood discharge from the incisions occur.