Consultants who perform this procedure
Why would I need small bowel resection surgery?
Patients requiring a small bowel resection do so because they have a condition that has caused part of their small bowel to become blocked or diseased.
What symptoms does small bowel resection surgery address?
A small bowel resection procedure helps to treat complications such as blockages and diseased sections of the small bowel caused by conditions such as bowel cancer, Crohn’s disease, large polyps and bowel injury.
When should you speak to your specialist about small bowel resection surgery?
Small bowel resection surgery is usually performed after being referred to a colorectal specialist who will be able to answer all of your questions and talk to you about your recovery.
They will also discuss with you whether or not you may need a temporary or permanent stoma (a bag attached to your small intestine called an ileostomy bag to collect the waste that would normally pass through your large intestine and out through your anus).
This kind of surgery can also be carried out in an emergency situation outside of the immediate care of your GP.
How is small bowel resection surgery performed?
Small bowel resection surgery is always performed under a general anaesthetic. It’s fairly major surgery that takes 1-4 hours so you can expect to be in hospital for up to two weeks after surgery.
This kind of surgery can be performed either as laparoscopic (keyhole) or open surgery, but your surgeon will discuss this with you.
If you have keyhole surgery, your surgeon will make a few small cuts in your abdomen in order to insert various medical implements inside your abdomen. They may need to fill your abdomen with gas in order to have a clear view. They will then locate and remove the affected part of your small bowel. If there’s enough small bowel left to re-join the two sections, they will do so. If not, they will fit an ileostomy bag.
With open surgery, your surgeon will make a thin cut of around 6-8 inches in your abdomen in order to reach your small bowel. They will then follow the same procedure to remove the affected section of bowel and either re-join your small bowel or fit an ileostomy bag.
What is the recovery like for small bowel resection surgery?
Your recovery from small bowel resection surgery will depend on multiple factors, including your age, fitness level and the nature of your procedure.
You are likely to be in discomfort after this kind of surgery, but your medical team will provide you with pain relief including morphine and may give you an epidural to numb the bottom half of your body to help control the pain you feel.
You may also have a catheter in your bladder to drain urine and another drain in your abdomen to drain away excess fluid that can build up after surgery. You may have an ileostomy bag that your surgical and nursing teams will help you with.
Your medical team will also give you advice on when and what you can eat. They may only allow you liquids and liquidised foods for the first few days but this will depend on you and your consultant.
Your surgery may cause you to have loose bowels for a time, but again, your surgical team will advise you.
Are there any risks/complications associated with small bowel resection 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.
Small bowel resection surgery has a risk of serious complications. The following risks and complications can occur in a small number of cases:
- Damage to the small bowel or surrounding organs
- Herniated bowel
- Wound infection
- Scar tissue
- Difficulty absorbing nutrients
- The two sections of small bowel becoming separated
- Anastomotic leak, where the bowel leaks where it’s been joined back together
How can I prepare for small bowel resection surgery?
Prior to small bowel resection surgery, your specialist will discuss with you how best to prepare for surgery, as each patient is different.
Common preparations for small bowel resection 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 given a laxative bowel preparation to use before surgery to clear your bowel to make surgery easier.
Are there alternatives for small bowel resection surgery?
If your specialist has recommended small bowel resection surgery, it’s unlikely that any other treatment will be suitable for you.