Colorectal surgery

Colon and Rectal Surgery is dedicated to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the colon, rectum, and anus. Our mission is the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective medical care with dignity and compassion.

The prime focus is the diagnosis and treatment of diseases arising in the anus, rectum, and large bowel (colon).We have completed fellowship training in this specialty and  are highly experienced and committed to providing the entire spectrum of care for their patients.

We are specialized in treating:

  • Laparoscopic colon and rectum surgery
  • Cancer of the colon, rectum and anus
  • Diverticular disease
  • Colon polyps
  • Anorectal disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Rectovaginal fistula
  • Ulcerative colitis

Our surgeons use advanced, laparoscopic surgical techniques when appropriate that means smaller incisions, reduced pain and faster recovery. These techniques typically involve threading a small tube with a tiny camera and other instruments to the surgical site via the anus or a small incision in the abdomen. In addition to allowing for a quicker recovery, laparoscopic surgery lowers your risk of developing procedure-related complications.

We perform sphincter (anal)-preserving colon and rectal surgery for cancer and benign disease to preserve your natural bodily functions to the fullest extent possible. We perform surgery for anal incontinence and rectal prolapse, and both operative and medical therapies for anal diseases.


What is a colectomy?

A colectomy is the removal of part of the colon (partial colectomy) or the entire colon (total colectomy), also known as the large intestine. Colectomy can be used to treat a variety of diseases, including removal of colon or rectal cancer or large polyps (growths that arise on the lining of the colon), diverticular disease, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), or bleeding that cannot be stopped. The portion of the colon removed depends on the nature of the disease.

What are the benefits of the laparoscopic or minimally invasive approach?

While laparoscopic surgery for colon cancer is an established and valuable option, the benefit of laparoscopy in rectal cancer surgery is still under investigation. Our surgeons at the University of Chicago Medicine are involved in the largest multicenter trial investigation on the use of laparoscopy for rectal cancer.
The advantages of a laparoscopic colectomy include reduced postoperative pain due to a shorter incision and decreased exposure of the intra-abdominal viscera to air, compared to an open colectomy. Additional benefits include shorter hospital stay, smaller surgical scars, and faster return to normal activities including work. The gastrointestinal tract usually recovers more rapidly so patients can resume eating sooner. It is sometimes possible to avoid the need for narcotic pain medicines completely after a laparoscopic colectomy.

Will I need to have a temporary or permanent stoma (ileostomy or colostomy) after the surgery?

An ileostomy or colostomy is when a portion of the small intestine or colon is brought out to the skin through a surgical opening the abdominal wall. Instead of eliminating with a bowel movement, intestinal waste passes into a specially fitted low-profile appliance, also known as a pouching system or a bag. Whether or not a patient will require a stoma depends on the nature of their disease. Temporary and even permanent ileostomies are sometimes required after certain operations for inflammatory bowel disease, and for some rectal cancer operations. If the rectal cancer involves or is close to the anal sphincter mechanism, a permanent colostomy could be required. Patients who may require a stoma work closely with a team of highly experienced enterostomal nurses to learn how to manage their stoma. Patients with stomas are able to live healthy, active lives and enjoy all of the activities they used to do before they had a stoma.

What can I eat / not eat after colorectal surgery?

There are no major restrictions after surgery. In the early time after your surgery (1-2 weeks), be sure to chew your food well. Avoid spicy or adventuresome foods until your intestines are functioning more regularly.

What are the complications and risks associated with colectomy?

The potential complications after colectomy include bleeding and infection, injury to nearby structures including the intestines, the bladder, blood vessels, and the ureter (a tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder). It is always possible that a leak can occur where the intestines were reconnected (the anastomosis). Blood clots can occur in the veins, and these can travel to the lungs. Hernia at the surgical incisions or bowel obstruction from internal scar tissue can also occur, even years later.
It is important to thoroughly understand the operation and the reason for it. For an operation like a colectomy, it is important to find a surgeon that has had specific training in this field and extensive experience in handling complex colorectal problems. Prior to the surgery, ask the surgeon about the volume and number of cases annually performed, the complexity of these cases, and their own overall complication rate.
At the University of Chicago Medicine we provide patients with multidisciplinary, state-of-the-art care that can improve long-term outcomes. Our colon and rectal surgeons are highly trained in laparoscopy and are actively involved in national clinical trials and teaching courses.

Is laparoscopic colectomy right for me?

Not every patient is eligible for laparoscopic colectomy. This depends on the type of disease affecting the patient and the training of the surgeon. Several other factors are considered including the patient’s body type and overall health, previous operations on the abdomen resulting in scar tissue, history of bleeding problems and pregnancy.

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