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What Is a Lower Anterior Resection?

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  • Written By: Misty Wiser
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2014
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A lower anterior resection is an operation performed to remove part of a diseased colon and reattach the healthy colon tissue to the anus. The resection may require the temporary use of a colostomy bag to collect fecal matter until the colon is healed enough for a bowel movement. It is a less invasive procedure than an abdominoperineal resection, the traditional surgery to treat rectal cancers and some cases of diverticulitis.

Before the lower anterior resection procedure begins, the patient will need to completely empty his colon. A liquid diet usually begins two days before the operation to eliminate any solid material from the colon. The night before the procedure, an enema will be given to remove the last traces of fecal matter. Another enema may be needed the morning of the operation to ensure the colon is free of any trace of feces.

The resection is performed under general anesthesia, usually administered through an intravenous (IV) line. An incision is made through the abdomen to access the colon. Any cancerous or inflamed colon tissue is removed, and the remainder of the colon is sutured to the anus. On occasion, the colon tissue may be too inflamed to immediately attach to the anus, and a colostomy bag will be added until the colon is healthy enough to function properly. After the surgery, the abdominal incision is closed and the patient will spend two to three hours in the surgical recovery room.

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Healing from a lower anterior resection takes about three to six weeks. During this time, a bowel management program will teach the patient how to regulate his bowel movements. The program includes instructions about the importance of body positioning when trying to have a bowel movement and how to manually stimulate a bowel movement.

Complications from the lower anterior resection are not as common as the more invasive abdominoperineal resection. There is a risk of excessive bleeding during and following the operation. An infection may set in from the opening of the bowels, resulting in a longer healing time. Swelling of the colon may also cause a longer recovery period.

Most patients have a favorable prognosis after the lower anterior resection. It is the operation performed most often for colorectal cancers as well as to remove inflamed or diseased colon tissue. Many patients are able to learn how to manage bowel movements after the procedure and avoid any fecal incontinence issues.

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myharley
Post 2

@golf07 - Your dad is fortunate he had such good results from his surgery. My husband went through something very similar, but didn't have good results.

He will probably have a colostomy bag for the rest of his life. This has been very frustrating and life changing for him, as you can imagine.

When he had is low anterior colon resection, I can't remember for sure how many inches of his colon they took out, but it was a lot.

He is thankful that the cancer has not returned, but this is something that has dramatically affected his life. It seems like his life revolves around a lot of doctor visits and medical procedures.

golf07
Post 1

My dad went through a lower anterior resection surgery after being diagnosed with colon cancer. This is something that is not very pleasant and quite embarrassing for many patients.

He ended up wearing a colostomy bag for about a week or so after the surgery. I know it bothered him more than anyone else, as it was uncomfortable all the way around.

Thankfully he recovered well from the surgery and was able to heal normally. Going through something like this really makes you realize how much we take for granted when everything works the way it should.

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