What is Small Bowel Resection?

Small bowel resection is a surgical procedure performed to remove all or part of the small intestine. The small intestine absorbs nutrients from food and passes waste to the large bowel. Tumors or conditions such as cancer or inflammatory bowel disease can cause injury to the intestine or lead to blockage. To allow your small intestine to function normally, surgery to remove part of the intestine may be necessary.

Small bowel resection can be done through either a laparoscopic or open approach. If you are having a laparoscopic small bowel resection, your surgeon will make multiple small incisions on your abdomen and insert a thin tube with a camera, called a laparoscope. If you are having an open small bowel resection, a large cut is made on the abdomen to expose the intestine. A laparoscopic small bowel resection is associated with less pain and requires a shorter recovery period, but depending on your condition, you may have to undergo an open procedure.

After making the necessary incisions, your surgeon will remove the targeted portion of the intestine and then perform an anastomosis. Depending on the amount of intestine left, an anastomosis may involve your surgeon either joining together the ends of the intestine or creating a stoma, which is an opening in the abdomen. In this procedure, called an ileostomy, the end of the small intestine (ileum) is attached to the opening in the abdominal wall. A drainage pouch will be attached to the skin to collect waste.

Stomas may be permanent or temporary. If the stoma is temporary, the ends of your intestine will be rejoined in a later procedure. Temporary stomas are generally used to allow time for the intestines to heal following surgery.

Small bowel resection is typically completed in one to four hours. After your operation, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few days, and it may take some time before you can return to your normal diet.

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