Patients undergoing colon surgery often face a long and difficult recovery because the traditional “open” procedures are highly invasive. In most cases, surgeons are required to make a long incision. Surgery results in an average hospital stay of a week or more and usually 6 weeks of recovery.
The colon is the large intestine; it is the lower part of your digestive tract. The intestine is a long, tubular organ consisting of the small intestine, the colon (large intestine) and the rectum, which is the last part of the colon. After food is swallowed, it begins to be digested in the stomach and then empties into the small intestine, where the nutritional part of the food is absorbed. The remaining waste moves through the colon to the rectum and is expelled from the body. The colon and rectum absorb water and hold the waste until you are ready to expel it.
A technique known as minimally invasive robotic colon surgery allows surgeons to perform many common colon procedures through small incisions. Depending on the type of procedure, patients may leave the hospital in a few days and return to normal activities more quickly than patients recovering from open surgery.
In most robotic colon resections, surgeons operate through 4 or 5 small openings (each about a quarter inch) while watching an enlarged image of you’s internal organs on a television monitor. In some cases, one of the small openings may be lengthened to 2 or 3 inches to complete the procedure.
Results may vary depending upon the type of procedure and patient’s overall condition. Common advantages are:
Although robotic colon resection has many benefits, it may not be appropriate for some patients. Obtain a thorough medical evaluation by a surgeon qualified in robotic colon resection in consultation with your primary care physician to find out if the technique is appropriate for you.
Most diseases of the colon are diagnosed with one of two tests: a colonoscopy or barium enema. A colonoscope is a soft, bendable tube about the thickness of the index finger which is inserted into the anus and then advanced through the entire large intestine. A barium enema is a special X-ray where a white “milk-shake fluid” is flushed into the rectum and by using mild pressure is pushed throughout the entire large intestine. These tests allow our surgeons to look inside of the colon. Sometimes a CT scan of the abdomen will be necessary. Prior to the operation, other blood tests, electrocardiogram (EKG) or a chest x-ray might be required.
“Robotic” surgery describes the techniques a surgeon uses to gain access to the internal surgery site.
Most laparoscopic colon procedures start the same way. Using a cannula (a narrow tube-like instrument), our surgeons enter the abdomen. A laparoscope (a tiny telescope connected to a video camera) is inserted through the cannula, giving our surgeons a magnified view of you’s internal organs on a television monitor. Several other cannulas are inserted to allow us to work inside and remove part of the colon. The entire procedure may be completed through the cannulas or by lengthening one of the small cannula incisions.
In a number of patients the robotic method cannot be performed. Factors that may increase the possibility of choosing or converting to the “open” procedure may include:
The decision to perform the open procedure is a judgment decision made by our surgeons either before or during the actual operation. When we feel that it is safest to convert the robotic procedure to an open one, this is not a complication, but rather sound surgical judgment. The decision to convert to an open procedure is strictly based on patient safety.
After the operation, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. Although many people feel better in a few days, remember that your body needs time to heal.
These complications include:
Be sure to call our surgeons if you develop any of the following:
Have Questions? Call (201) 343-3433 or request an appointment online.