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Having Bowel Surgery: Limited Bowel Resection

This surgery is done to treat diseases of the digestive tract. It removes part of the large and small intestines. When healed, bowel movements still occur through the anus.

Preparing for surgery

Preparation may begin a few weeks before surgery and can include the following:

  • If you smoke, try to quit.

  • Tell your doctor about any medications (including aspirin, NSAIDs, and blood thinners), herbs, or supplements you take. Ask whether you should stop any of them before surgery.

  • If you will have a stoma, a specially trained healthcare provider called an enterostomal therapy (ET) nurse will meet with you. The ET nurse will help you determine the optimal location for the stoma on the abdominal wall.

  • If instructed, stop eating solid food a day or two before surgery. Switch to a diet of clear liquids such as broth.

  • You may receive instructions for bowel prep, which helps ensure that your digestive tract is ready for surgery.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. This includes water, gum, and breath mints.

  • If your doctor tells you to take medication the morning of surgery, swallow it with only small sips of water.

Image of the intestinges showing the ends of intestine sewn together

Image of the intestines with the portion of intestine to be removed highlighted.

The procedure

  • The diseased portion of the intestine is removed (resected).

  • If there is an abscess (infected area), the abscess is drained or removed.

  • The ends of the intestine are sewn together. This connection is called an anastomosis.

Risks and complications

Bowel surgery has certain risks and possible complications. Your health care provider can discuss them with you. They may include:

  • Infection

  • Injury to nearby organs

  • An anastomosis that leaks

  • Blood clots

  • Risks related to anesthesia

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 3/14/2013
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