Using this guide What's covered
Here you’ll find the answers to many of your questions about colorectal surgery. Learn how it works, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.
To see how the surgery is done, view our procedure animation below. For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.
What is a colorectal surgery?
Also known as ‘major bowel surgery’, colorectal surgery is an umbrella term for a number of operations involving the colon (large bowel) and rectum (the end of the large bowel). Surgery often involves removing all or part of the colon.
Sometimes after major surgery the bowel is brought to the surface and a stoma (artificial opening in the abdomen) is created, allowing for faeces to be passed into a bag adhered to the skin. This is called a colostomy if the colon is involved, and an ileostomy if the ileum (small bowel) is used. This may be a temporary measure (which can be reversed when the bowel has recovered), or it may need to be permanent.
Why is it done?
It’s usually performed to treat diseases such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and, in some cases, diverticulitis. Sometimes major colorectal surgery is needed to treat an acute condition such as a bowel obstruction (blockage) or haemorrhage (uncontrolled bleeding).
The reasons for performing surgery and the outcome – whether the disease is cured or the aim is symptom relief – depends on the individual condition.
There are different types of operation that can be classified as colorectal surgery:
- Hemicolectomy – approximately half the colon is removed (left or right)
- Total colectomy – complete removal of the colon
- Low anterior resection – removal of the lower part of the colon and the top part of the rectum
Where is it done?
Major colorectal surgery is done in an overnight hospital. The length of hospital stay varies – the average is 10 days.
How long does it take?
It varies depending on the nature and extent of the surgery, but is likely to be 2-4 hours.
Who is involved?
- Your surgeon
- Assistant surgeon
Preparing for surgery
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