What is a hemicolectomy?

This operation is designed to remove approximately half of your large intestine. The extent of resection depends on both the blood supply of the bowel, and the extent of disease.

Once the colon has been freed from its attachments to the abdominal cavity the two free ends will be joined together. This is called an anastomosis. It is extremely unlikely that you would require a stoma after this operation. (A stoma is a false opening through the tummy so that the bowel contents are diverted into a bag). Stomas are used if there is any potential risk to the anastomosis from either infection or poor blood supply. It is temporary.

Before the operation

  • You will have routine tests to ensure that you are fit enough for surgery.
  • It is likely that you will also have medicine (bowel prep) to empty your bowel completely. This makes your bowel as clean as possible for the surgeon.
  • You will have only CLEAR FLUIDS for the 24 hours prior to your operation and you may require a drip.

When you wake up after the operation you will have some or all of the following:

  • A wound on your tummy with stitches or clips, covered with a dressing.
  • A needle into a vein (a drip) to give you fluids and medicines. Sometimes the bowel is slow to start to work again after your operation, and you may not be allowed to eat or drink for a few days.
  • You may have a tube in your nose that will keep your stomach empty.
  • A urinary catheter – a small tube to keep your bladder empty.
  • You may have a fine tube in your neck to help measure the amount of fluid being put into your body accurately.
  • You may have a stoma appliance (a bag) on your tummy.
  • You may have an epidural (a fine tube in your back) or a pump (a line in your arm) which gives you pain relieving medicines.

It may take several days for all these things to be removed, during which time the nurses will help you to wash, clean your mouth and enable you to move both in and out of bed.

After several days you may feel that you want to pass wind or have your bowels opened. Even if you have a stoma this is entirely NORMAL and you may pass a little old blood or mucous (slime). Please keep the nurses informed.

Risks and Benefits.

Risks of this operation are small and much less than the risk of doing nothing, but nonetheless this is a major operation and some people (less than 5%) do not survive such surgery. All operations carry a risk from anaesthetics, but this is minimal due to modern techniques.

There are risks from infection, bleeding and DVT (blood clots in the legs). Precautions will be taken against these, but they may still occur.

Rarely the anastomosis doesn’t heal correctly and subsequent surgery may be required.

When you first pass stool again it will be liquid and sometimes it takes several weeks or even months to get used to your new “plumbing” arrangement. Please be patient with yourself and ask the nurse or doctors if you are worried about anything.

Occasionally some people have to adjust their dietary habits after this operation in order to keep their bowel habit regular. Please talk to tone of the nurses or doctors about this if you are in doubt.

Your stoma care nurse or surgeon will discuss this procedure further with you when you sign the consent form for the operation.