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A sigmoid colectomy is a surgery in which the sigmoid colon, or the last section of the colon, is removed because it is damaged or diseased. After this section is removed, surgeons will usually try to connect the rectum to the remaining part of the colon. After the procedure, a hospital stay is required, and a patient can usually go home within a week or two.
Before a sigmoid colectomy a patient typically must get his other medical conditions under control. For example, if he is overweight, doctors will usually require him to lose a certain number of pounds before going through with the surgery. High blood pressure, along with heart and lung diseases, must also be regulated. Most patients must also quit smoking before undergoing a sigmoid colectomy.
This procedure is performed only after the patient has been administered a general anesthesia. After a patient is asleep, the surgeon will begin by making an incision on the lower part of the abdomen. This incision is usually around 15 inches (40 centimeters) long.
The lower part of the large intestine and the upper part of the rectum are then pulled through the abdominal wall. Any diseased or damaged sections of that section of the colon are then removed. During a sigmoid colectomy, other portions of the colon may also need to be removed due to the disease spreading.
After a portion of the colon is removed, surgeons will then usually try to connect the rest of the colon to the rectum. Many times, a temporary colostomy may be used to keep waste products away from the areas that are healing. A colostomy is a hole in the abdomen that uses a drain to collect a person's waste products in a bag, instead of it being passed out the rectum. In a sigmoid colostomy where surgeons are unable to connect the rest of the colon to the rectum, a colostomy may be permanent.
For the first couple of hours after a sigmoid colostomy, a patient is usually transferred to a recovery room. Here, his vital signs will usually be monitored, to ensure that he did not have an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. After he is moved to a regular room, he will usually need to stay in bed for at least a day. Tubes may be inserted into the stomach, and intravenous fluids are usually necessary.
Patients can typically get up and move around, with help, within a day or two. This will usually be quite painful, but many times the pain will subside within a week. Sutures in the incision site will usually be removed after about seven to ten days.
Most patients are usually released from the hospital within two weeks after a sigmoid colectomy. Before they are released from the hospital, they will usually be advised on how to take care of the colostomy, if necessary, as well as any limits on activities. Many patients are able to resume their normal daily activities within a few months after the procedure.