What are the Risks of Intestinal Surgery?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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There are various risks of intestinal surgery that patients should be aware of before undergoing any procedure. As with any operation, blood clots, scarring, heart attack, or breathing issues may occur in rare cases. Risks pertaining to intestinal surgery include bowel obstruction or perforation, internal bleeding, paralysis of the bowel, bowel leakage, or damage to other surrounding organ systems.

Risks of intestinal surgery may be more likely to occur in certain individuals. Those who are of poor overall health at the time of the operation may have greater risk of issues like heart attack or infection. Intestines that have been damaged due to an illness or injury may also be more likely to sustain greater abuse during surgery. These potential risks should be thoroughly discussed with patients, and those who are in poor health should be made as healthy as possible before surgery to ensure the greatest chance for success.

To prevent the risks of intestinal surgery, those with serious health conditions will need to be stabilized before the operation. Patients will also need to be closely monitored in the days following surgery to ensure that complications can be dealt with immediately should they arise. Infections can normally be thwarted by using antibiotics intravenously either before one occurs or as soon as early symptoms appear.


More serious risks of intestinal surgery, such as intestinal bleeding or leakages, may have to be repaired by doing a second operation to repair any damage. This can put the patient at even further risks, but it is generally the best choice when necessary.

For these reasons, patients should only undergo surgery when absolutely necessary. Many illnesses and injuries can be repaired using less invasive methods, and this helps to avoid any risks of intestinal surgery. When this is not possible, patients should be prepped for the operation as much as possible to allow them to get into the best shape possible in order to avoid potential complications.

Side effects that may occur should risks of intestinal surgery arise include long term damage to the heart or intestines, shock, sepsis, or even death. The severity of problems and health of the individual may affect how well complications can be resolved. Long-term damage is relatively rare, and most patients come through intestinal surgery without serious harm. Most occurring side effects are mild to moderate, and can be treated successively.


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