Consultants who perform this procedure
Learn more about sigmoid colectomy surgery at King Edward VII’s Hospital
Why would I need sigmoid colectomy surgery?
Patients needing this type of surgery do so because they have a condition that has caused the sigmoid colon to become diseased. The sigmoid colon is the last part of the colon, or large intestines, before the rectum.
What symptoms does sigmoid colectomy surgery address?
A sigmoid colectomy aims to treat blockages and remove diseased sections of bowel that can be caused by conditions such as diverticular disease.
When should you speak to your specialist about sigmoid colectomy surgery?
This kind of surgery is usually carried out after being under the care of a colorectal specialist, but if you have pain or discomfort in the lower left side of your abdomen, speak to your GP.
Prior to surgery, your specialist will talk to you about the possibility of needing a temporary or permanent stoma. A stoma means having a colostomy bag attached to your abdomen so that stools can pass into it to give the area of bowel you’ve had operated on, a rest.
Sigmoid colectomy surgery can also be carried out in an emergency situation outside of the immediate care of your GP.
How is sigmoid colectomy surgery performed?
A sigmoid colectomy is always carried out under a general anaesthetic. It normally takes around 90 minutes and you can expect to stay in hospital for up to two weeks after surgery.
This surgery can be carried out as laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery or open surgery. Your specialist will discuss your options with you.
If you have keyhole surgery, your surgeon will make a number of small cuts in your abdomen. If you have open surgery, they will make one, longer, thin cut in your abdomen.
They will then surgically remove your sigmoid colon and attach the two healthy ends of your colon together. If there isn’t enough healthy colon remaining to stitch together, your surgeon will perform a stoma procedure.
What is the recovery like for sigmoid colectomy surgery?
Your recovery from sigmoid colectomy surgery will depend on multiple factors, including your age, fitness level and the nature of your procedure.
After surgery, you will be giving pain relief which may include morphine or an epidural to numb your bottom half. You may have had a catheter fitted to drain urine plus a tube in your abdomen to drain away any fluids that build up after surgery.
Your medical team will provide you with advice on when you can start eating and what you should eat to begin with. They will also advise how long you should take off work and your usual activities. You can expect to be slowly returning to your normal activities within around six weeks.
Are there any risks/complications associated with sigmoid colectomy surgery?
As with any medical procedure, it’s possible for risks or complications to arise. Speaking with your specialist beforehand will help you avoid any adverse reactions.
Sigmoid colectomy surgery has a risk of serious complications. The following risks and complications can occur in a small number of cases:
- Anastomotic leak, where the bowel leaks where it’s been joined back together
- Paralysis of the bowel
- The two sections of the bowel separating
- Damage to the bowel or surrounding organs
- Wound infection
How can I prepare for sigmoid colectomy surgery?
Prior to sigmoid colectomy surgery, your specialist will discuss with you how best to prepare for surgery, as each patient is different.
Common preparations for sigmoid colectomy surgery include:
- Routine blood tests, x rays or scans as requested by your specialist
- Taking steps to stop smoking if you smoke
- Losing weight if you’re overweight
- Remaining active and doing regular exercise
You may also be advised to follow a special diet and to take a special laxative bowel preparation to clear your bowel a few days before your surgery. This allows your specialist clearer access to your bowel.
Are there alternatives for sigmoid colectomy surgery?
If your specialist has recommended sigmoid colectomy surgery, it’s unlikely that any other treatment would be suitable for you.