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Separate from the method by which a surgeon completes a procedure, there are many types of colorectal operations. The specific type of surgery is determined by the location of the disease. Four common types are right hemicolectomy, sigmoid colectomy, left hemicolectomy, and low anterior resection (LAR).

Right hemicolectomy

The surgeon removes the ascending colon and a portion of the transverse colon and then connects the transverse colon to the end of the small intestine. Most patients regain bowel function within three days after surgery. Some patients may experience a slower return of bowel function, which may cause a longer stay at the hospital. This complication also applies to sigmoid colectomy, left hemicolectomies, and low anterior resections.

Sigmoid colectomy

The surgeon removes the diseased portion of the sigmoid colon and then connects the descending colon to the rectum. Some patients may have an increased risk of post-operative complications. Complications could include surgical site infections, anastomotic leaks, or longer hospital stays. Surgeons may create a temporary or permanent ostomy, which may extend their stay at the hospital.

Left hemicolectomy

The surgeon removes a portion of the transverse colon, the descending colon, and the sigmoid colon and then connects the transverse colon to the rectum. With this surgery, some patients may have an increased risk of post-operative complications, as compared to a right hemicolectomy. Complications could include surgical site infections or a longer hospital stay. Surgeons are more likely to create a temporary ostomy in patients who had left hemicolectomy, which may extend their stay at the hospital.

Low anterior resection (LAR)

The surgeon removes the diseased portion of the rectum and the sigmoid colon. Because this surgery takes place so deep in the pelvis, patients may be at a higher risk of anastomotic leaks and fecal incontinence. To reduce the risk, your surgeon may create a temporary ostomy to divert fecal matter away from the newly created anastomosis. Rectal cancer patients are also at increased risk of developing low anterior resection syndrome (LARS), a collection of symptoms ranging from incontinence with frequency and urgency to constipation and incomplete emptying. Patients who had a low anterior resection are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction.

Learn about minimally invasive surgery here

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