Who Should Undergo Major Colorectal Surgery?
Individuals diagnosed with certain conditions affecting the colon, anus, or rectum may be advised to undergo
removal of a portion of the colon, rectum or anus. These conditions include cancer, polyps, inflammatory bowel
disease, or diverticular disease. This is considered Major Colorectal Surgery as a segment of bowel has to be
removed, together with the creation of an anastomosis (joining back the 2 ends of the bowel).
What to Expect Before Major Colorectal Surgery?
Prior to the scheduled surgery, the patient will have a detailed consultation with the surgeon to discuss the
following: their diagnosis (following diagnostic tests), recommended treatment, how to prepare for surgery and
what to expect afterwards. The patient should disclose any medications they are taking, so that they can be
advised which medicines should be stopped or adjusted prior to surgery.
Frequently, part of the process of getting ready for surgery will include bowel preparation, by emptying the
bowels with laxatives. The doctor will usually also provide special dietary instructions as part of this
What to Expect During Surgery
Colorectal surgery is done under general anaesthesia while the patient is asleep, when they will not feel any pain nor remember anything about the surgery. During the surgery, the patient’s heart rate, blood oxygen levels and blood pressure are closely monitored. Surgery can take approximately 3 to 6 hours, depending on the type and complexity of the case.
Majority of these surgeries are performed with keyhole methods (laparoscopic or robotic surgery). Keyhole surgery has been found to be very safe and to be associated with less pain, faster recovery and shorter hospital stay, than traditional surgery with a large open cut.
What to Expect after Surgery
After the surgery, the patient will usually have to stay in hospital for between 3 to 7 days. As early mobilisation after surgery has been found not only to be safe, but also to reduce complications after surgery, a physiotherapist will usually be on hand to assist the patient with mobilisation exercises and with walking. Pain and discomfort are expected at the surgical sites, but pain relievers will help control the pain.