What is Colectomy?
The colon, also known as the large bowel or intestine, is a long, coiled tube that controls the final stages of the body’s digestive process, absorbing and removing undigested waste from the body.
Colectomy, the surgical removal of all or parts of the colon, may be necessary to treat or prevent diseases and conditions that affect it. These may include:
- Uncontrolled bleeding from colon
- Obstruction of the bowel
- Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammation of the dietary tract
- Cancer of the colon
- Ulcerative colitis, causes sores and inflammation in the colon lining
- Diverticulitis, an infection of small pouches in the colon
- Traumatic injury to the colon
- Preventive measure, for those with high risk of developing colon cancer
Should you have to undergo a colectomy, there are four main types of surgery, depending on the nature and extent of your problem:
- Total colectomy, removes the entire colon
- Partial (or subtotal) colectomy, removes only part of the colon
- Proctocolectomy, removes both the colon and rectum
- Hemicolectomy, removes only the left or right section of the colon
Colectomy usually also requires other procedures for the reattachment of the remaining segments to allow waste to leave the body.
Colectomy is performed as either open surgery, in which a long incision in your abdomen allows access the surgical site; by traditional laparoscopy, in which special tools with a camera attached are inserted through several tiny incisions in your abdomen to access the surgical site; or robotically, in which traditional laparoscopy is taken to another level.
What is Robotic Colectomy?
In 2000, the Federal Drug Administration approved the minimally invasive robotic da Vinci® Surgical System. The advent of a robotic alternative meant enhanced efficiency, accuracy, ease, and comfort in countless of laparoscopic procedures, including prostatectomy.
Rather than requiring large abdominal incisions to reach the surgical location to remove the prostate, robotic prostatectomy is performed through tiny ones using scaled-down instruments attached to robotic arms that are guided by the surgeon. Added benefits are heightened vision, 3-dimensional imaging, and enhanced dexterity.
Although not all cases requiring colectomy are suitable for robotic surgery, for many it provides the least invasive and most effective treatment, offering:
- Small incisions
- Rapid return of bowel function
- Significantly less pain
- Shorter hospital stay
- Shorter recovery time
- A faster return to normal daily activities
The most important factor in the success of robotic colectomy is the surgeon’s experience and skill in using the robotic system.
Potential complications of robotic colectomy may include:
- Bleeding, rare as compared to open surgery
- Injury to nearby tissue or organs, uncommon
Complications will depend largely on your current health, age, and the stage of your cancer; clinical studies show them as equal or less than those of other types of colectomy.
When Considering Robotic Colectomy
Discuss your expectations regarding the outcome of robotic colectomy with your physician. Your current health will influence the success of the procedure and your recovery. Make sure you understand the benefits and risks for your situation.