Partial Colectomy for Diverticular Disease
Surgical treatment of diverticulitis or diverticular bleeding involves removing the diseased part of the colon (partial colectomy) and then joining the remaining sections. Partial colectomy is done under general anesthesia.
In the past, surgery for diverticulitis was always done as an open procedure in which a large incision is made in the abdomen. But as laparoscopic surgery has become more popular, more surgeons are using it for diverticulitis. There are advantages and disadvantages to both surgeries. For example, people who have laparoscopic surgery tend to have shorter stays in the hospital, shorter recovery times, and fewer complications after surgery.1 In some cases of complicated diverticulitis, laparoscopic surgery may not be an option.
A partial colectomy may be done in one step, or it may require more than one surgery (two-stage operation). In a two-stage operation, the first surgery removes the diseased part of the colon, and the end of the upper section of the colon is attached to an opening in the abdomen wall (colostomy). Until the next surgery, stool passes out of the body at this opening and into a disposable bag. After inflammation and infection from the diverticulitis have cleared up, the second surgery is done to reconnect the ends of the colon.
What To Expect After Surgery
The hospital stay for an open partial colectomy is usually 4 to 7 days, if there are no complications. The hospital stay for laparoscopic surgery is shorter.
When the two-stage operation is done, the time between operations is usually 6 to 12 weeks.
The recovery time after a one-stage operation or after the final operation of a two-stage surgery is usually 6 to 8 weeks.
Why It Is Done
Surgery may be considered if a person with diverticulitis has:
Surgery may be needed if a person with diverticulitis has complications, including:
How Well It Works
Up to 12 out of 100 people who have surgery develop diverticulitis again.2 But another surgery is usually not needed.
Some people who have two-stage surgeries may not have the second part of the surgery to reattach the intestine and repair the colostomy. This is often because the intestine does not heal well enough to be rejoined.3
All surgeries have some risks of infection, severe bleeding, or complications from general anesthesia.
After some colectomies, a leak develops between the joined sections of the colon. Or injury may occur to the bladder, ureters, or blood vessels.
What To Think About
Going into your surgery, you may not know whether you will need to have a two-stage operation and a colostomy. The surgeon may have to make that decision after the surgery has started. If the surgery is done when you are not having an attack of diverticulitis, the chances that the surgery will be done in one step are higher. Emergency surgery has a higher risk of a two-step surgery. But some emergency surgeries are done in only one step.
If you do not have frequent attacks of diverticulitis and do not have complications, you may be able to avoid surgery and to control your condition with a high-fiber diet.
People who have colostomies need instructions about caring for the collection bag and about dietary changes that can reduce odor and gas. They also need emotional support, because many people find having a colostomy embarrassing. For more information, see:
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