A laparoscopic resection of the small bowel is a surgery that uses small medical instruments and a camera to remove a section of the small bowel. The instruments are inserted into three or five small cuts in the abdomen. It is also known as a laparoscopic resection of the small intestine.
- The main function of the small bowel is to break down and absorb nutrients.
- Occasionally, parts of the small bowel become blocked or unhealthy (e.g., inflamed or infected). A small bowel resection is done to remove the unhealthy part of the bowel and sew the two healthy ends together.
- Rarely, there is not any healthy tissue to sew together. In those cases, the loose end of the bowel is brought out of the body through a hole made in the abdomen (a stoma). Stomas can be permanent or temporary. Temporary stomas are done to allow the affected part of the bowel time to heal.
A laparoscopic resection of your small bowel may be recommended if you have a blockage, a hole, or severe disease in your small intestines. These diseases include:
- Death of bowel tissue due to inadequate blood supply
- Tumors or growths (benign or cancerous)
- An injury to the small intestine
There are times when the surgeon cannot perform the surgery through a laparoscope. In these cases, the diseased part of the small intestine needs to be removed through a larger incision in the abdomen (also called an open procedure).
Prior to surgery, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before surgery. These may include:
- Medications you should not take before the surgery, such as blood thinners
- Regular medications you should continue to take on the day of your surgery
- How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before the surgery
If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.
During your surgery, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free.
- General anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia for removal of the small intestine. This is when you are put into a deep sleep and are unable to see, hear or feel anything.
- You will be in the hospital for about a week after surgery.
- Your nurse will help you get out of bed as soon as possible. This will help decrease the risk of post-operative complications, like blood clots and infection.
- After a couple of days, you will be started on clear liquids. You will usually be able to eat solid food when your bowels start to work again.
- Pain medication and help at home may be needed while you recover.
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Contact your healthcare provider if you are having symptoms that may be related to any part of your bowels. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you have had them.
- Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations).
- Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
- Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.
- If your healthcare provider prescribes a medication for you, ask for a generic version. If your doctor thinks that a generic version is not right for you, ask for a medication on the lowest available tier of your Prescription Drug List (PDL).
What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a small intestine resection?
- What is my diagnosis and reason for the surgery? Are there any alternatives to surgery?
- How much of my small intestines do you think you will be removing? Will I need to have a “bag” after surgery?
- What tests are you recommending and why? Will the test results change my treatment plan? If not, then why do I need them?
- How will I feel after the surgery? Will I have to modify my activity?
- What are the possible complications for this surgery?
- What happens if I do not go through with the surgery?
- What is your experience in doing this type of surgery? What is your complication rate?
- Is there any special preparation for the surgery? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
- Will I be able to get adequate nutrition through my bowel after surgery?
- Will my diet change after surgery?
- Will my bowel habits change after surgery?
Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home.
Before you go home, make sure you understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects), what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider after discharge and follow-up plans. Your surgeon should also communicate with your primary care physician.
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