What is an Enterectomy?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An enterectomy is a surgical procedure in which part of the intestine is removed. There are a number of situations in which an enterectomy may be medically indicated, ranging from removal of a suspected cancerous lesion to emergency surgery to repair a section of bowel damaged in a car accident. This procedure can be performed by a general surgeon or a specialist in gastro-intestinal surgery, and is done under general anesthesia.

A patient is usually given general anesthesia for an enterectomy.
A patient is usually given general anesthesia for an enterectomy.

When an enterectomy is a scheduled procedure, the surgeon will meet with the patient beforehand to discuss what will happen during the surgery and talk about after care. Some screening will be performed to make sure that the candidate is a good candidate for surgery, and the patient also meets with an anesthesiologist to talk about anesthesia options. To get ready for surgery, the patient will be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for several hours before the surgery.

Part of the intestine is removed during an enterectomy.
Part of the intestine is removed during an enterectomy.

In an emergency situation where there may not be very much preparation time, surgeon, anesthesiologist, and surgical team will try to gather as much information as possible to make the procedure safe. Ideally, this includes a list of medications being used by the patient, the patient's blood type, and information about any chronic medical conditions or ongoing medical problems. All of this information can be valuable to have during the surgery, and it is information which all people should try to carry with them just in case an emergency situation arises.

Patients are put under general anesthesia for an enterectomy. Elective procedures can often be performed laparoscopically, with the surgeon making a series of small incisions to insert surgical tools. In an emergency, open surgery may be a better option. Open surgery is used when a surgeon is concerned that the area of damage may not be immediately evident, or when there are worries about the extent of the damage and the need to manage areas where bleeding is occurring.

After an enterectomy, a patient may need to make adjustments to his or her diet, depending on the section of intestine removed. It is also usually necessary to take antibiotics to prevent infection, and to attend several checkup visits to assess the progress of the healing. In the days immediately following, the diet is severely restricted to give the intestines a chance to fully heal. After healing is over, the patient can meet with a doctor to talk about dietary issues. Malnutrition in particular can be a problem, as the patient may be less able to absorb nutrients.

In the case of an emergency, an enterectomy is best performed as open surgery.
In the case of an emergency, an enterectomy is best performed as open surgery.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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