Ulcerative Colitis Surgery: An Overview

Ulcerative colitis surgery is the last and most invasive method of controlling ulcerative colitis, and may not actually cure the patient of the disease, though it will certain alleviate the symptoms. Ulcerative colitis surgery is a surgical procedure during which the affected portions of the colon, large intestine and rectum are removed to eliminate future spread of the disease. While ulcerative colitis can often be controlled through medication and adjustments to diet, surgery is the only option for patients who suffer debilitating symptoms with the disease.

The problem is that medical professionals and dieticians cannot always agree on the foods and beverages which inflame the disease, and three different doctors may give three very different opinions concerning ulcerative colitis. Some patients feel that surgery is their only option in order to experience relief from pain and discomfort.

Before undergoing any type of surgery, it is important to familiarize yourself with the procedure. Talk with your doctor at length about the length of the surgery, the aftereffects, what to suspect over the days and weeks following surgery, and what to do if the symptoms persist. Your doctor should be happy to discuss your particular case of ulcerative colitis and go over all of the treatment options.

The actual ulcerative colitis surgery involves removing pieces of the colon, large intestine and rectum, which can have varying side effects depending upon how much tissue will actually have to be removed. Some people lose so much of their large intestine that they will have to live the rest of their lives with a coleostomy, which is when the intestine is rerouted outside the stomach and the patient must carry a bag with them to catch any excrement.

The limited amount of large intestine in the body results in the body’s inability to absorb nutrients at the proper rate. The patient will have to take vitamins every day and will probably have difficulty gaining weight.

Surgery will also be required if perforations – or holes – are created in the colon or large intestine to do excess toxins in the system, or if the doctor fears that the patient is at a higher risk for colon cancer.

Ulcerative colitis surgery is a four-to-six hour procedure, after which the patient will typically remain in ICU (intensive care unit) for a period of days until doctors are certain that no lasting and harmful damage remains in the colon or intestine. The patient may be required to wear a coleostomy bag for several days, weeks or months following the surgery to allow the intestine and rectum to heal.

The patient will then have to remain under close observation by his or her doctor to make sure that no other part of the colon, large intestine or rectum is affected by the surgery. If the entire intestine or colon is removed, other surgeries or procedures may be required.

Consult with your doctor about possible remedies for ulcerative colitis before committing to surgery. If necessary, or if it will ease your mind, obtain a second opinion before scheduling the surgery.


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