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How Do I Prepare for Colon Resection Surgery?

Removing a portion of the colon takes place during colon resection surgery.
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  • Written By: Rebecca Mecomber
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2014
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Colon resection surgery is surgery to remove a portion or all of the colon, or large intestine. The purpose of a colon resection or colorectal resection is to treat such diseases as colon or rectum cancer, intestinal blockage, an abscess, diverticulitis or Crohn's disease. Expect to spend a few days or weeks preparing for a colon resection, both physically and emotionally, by following your doctor's instructions and avoiding stressful thoughts and situations. Rest frequently, limit smoking and alcohol consumption, avoid pain relievers that inhibit blood clotting, and avoid all food and drink the day before surgery.

During colon resection surgery, the surgeon removes the diseased section of the colon with a small portion of healthy colon at each end. The remaining healthy sections are sewn together, and the suture is allowed to heal. Depending on the location and severity of the disease, a surgeon might perform one of two types of resections: open surgery requiring an abdominal incision, or laparoscopy in which a tiny camera is inserted into a small incision and tiny instruments are used to repair the colon. For some types of colon resections, you might need a colostomy, a temporary or permanent opening through the abdomen for the elimination of waste.

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Emotionally and mentally prepare yourself for the colon resection surgery. Plan your transportation to and from the hospital in advance. Find someone to help you with daily duties such as cooking and cleaning for a week or two after surgery. Arrange a comfortable area at home where you will spend most of your time after recovery, and place the television remote control, medicine, facial tissues and water glass in an easily accessible place. Avoid strenuous labor and stressful situations before and after surgery, because the colon is sensitive to the chemicals that your body produces while under stress.

If you smoke, quit smoking at least two weeks before surgery, although quitting six to eight weeks is better. Smoking delays the healing process, and smokers tend to experience more respiratory complications during colon resection surgery. Avoid medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen before surgery, because these interfere with the blood's clotting ability. If you are on a daily aspirin regimen, inform your doctor.

The night before surgery, do not drink or eat anything — not even water — without your doctor's permission. Food in the stomach might cause problems while you are anesthetized, so follow your doctor's orders carefully. You will be given an enema or oral solution that will clean out your colon before surgery, so be prepared for a little discomfort.

After colon resection surgery, expect to stay in the hospital for at least day or two until your bowels are operational again. Your physician will instruct you on your diet, activities, pain medication and checkups. Be sure to follow those instructions diligently. Light exercise, such as walking, will benefit your digestive tract, but avoid lifting anything for at least six weeks.

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