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.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for colorectal surgery, and learn how your choice of doctor and hospital affect that cost. 


Rectum removal costs Colon removal costs

Learn about colorectal surgery

This short animation shows how your surgeon can remove a section your colon and join the ends together.


This animation shows how surgery is done to remove the rectum  

The basics

What's colorectal surgery?

Your colon, or large intestine, is the part of your gastrointestinal tract that connects your small intestine with your rectum (the end of your large bowel) and anus (back passage). The term colorectal surgery, or ‘bowel surgery’, includes several operations in these areas.

If a section of your colon needs to be removed, the ends are usually sewn or stapled together. Sometimes your surgeon will bring the end of your colon to the surface of your abdomen creating a stoma (artificial opening) enabling faeces to be passed into a bag attached to your skin. This is called a colostomy. It's often a temporary measure (which your surgeon can reverse after your colon recovers) or it could be permanent.

Why is Colorectal surgery done?

Your surgeon may recommend colorectal surgery when there’s disease or damage to your colon. The damage may be caused by cancer or another disease including:

  • diverticulitis
  • inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • a benign tumour
  • an injury or obstruction
  • blockage in a vein or artery causing damage to your bowel (ischaemia)
  • bleeding.

There are different types of colorectal surgery:

  • Partial colectomy – part of your colon is removed.
  • Hemi colectomy – approximately half your colon is removed (left or right).
  • Subtotal colectomy – most of your colon is removed.
  • Total colectomy – all of your colon is removed, except for your rectum and anus.
  • Proctocolectomy – your colon and rectum are removed.
  • Abdomino-perineal resection – part of your left colon is removed, and your rectum and anus.

The details


Alternatives to colorectal surgery

There may be an alternative to colorectal surgery.
Learn more

Results vs risks of the procedure

The benefits and potential complications of colorectal surgery.
Learn more

Choosing a specialist

How to find a colorectal surgeon who specialises in your procedure.
Learn more


Questions for your specialist

What you should ask before going ahead with surgery.
Learn more

Preparing for your procedure

Pre-operative tests and cleaning your colon before colorectal surgery.
Learn more

Your anaesthetic options

About the anaesthetic and post-op pain relief.
Learn more


Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your surgery.
Learn more

Your procedure

What happens in the operating theatre.
Learn more


After your procedure

Your hospital stay.
Learn more

Recovery and aftercare

Resuming activities and watching for problems.
Learn more

Living with a stoma

Managing a stoma and accessing stoma resources.
Learn more


People who've had colorectal surgery talk about
their preparation, hospital stay and recovery.

View videos

Living with bowel cancer

Many people with bowel cancer will have colorectal surgery. These short videos provide personal insights about bowel cancer treatment and life after surgery.

View videos

Give us feedback

Did you find this guide helpful? Let us know what you liked or what we can do to improve it. We'd love to hear from you.

To provide feedback, email us at

Related articles

Find a doctor

Search for specialists who participate in our Medicover no-gap or known-gap scheme.

Find a health professional

Search for providers who participate in our More for You program. Find physios, chiros, podiatrists and more.


Compare hospital safety and quality data before deciding where you're treated.


Programs and resources to set you up for a healthier future.

Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.