Everything You Need to Know About Colorectal Surgery

Posted on June 8, 2018

Doctor and Patient

Surgery can make you anxious, especially if you’re unsure of the outcome. However, learning about the surgery and what to expect afterward can reassure you. It’s important to address your concerns with your health care team and ask questions before the day of your surgery. This guide from PBMC, a medical center in Suffolk County, NY, will help you prepare for your colorectal surgery and understand what to expect during your recovery.

What Is Colorectal Surgery?

Your diagnosis and condition determine the type of colorectal surgery you’ll have. Colorectal surgery treats damage to the colon, rectum, and anus, caused by diseases of the lower digestive tract. It’s a treatment option for conditions like colorectal cancer, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis.

Types of colorectal surgery:

  • Colectomy (removal of all or part of the colon)
  • Rectal resection (removal of all or part of the rectum)
  • Ileostomy/colostomy (a surgical opening in the abdominal wall)
  • Polypectomy (removal of a polyp)
  • Hemorrhoidectomy (removal of hemorrhoids)

Colorectal surgery may be traditional or laparoscopic. During traditional surgery, the surgeon makes one large incision. Laparoscopic surgery requires only a few small incisions and is less invasive. Minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery techniques can also be used to treat conditions.

Often colorectal surgery involves creating an ostomy, which is an opening from the inside to the outside of the body. This creates another way for intestinal waste to leave the body. If you have an ostomy, a pouch will be placed around the stoma (opening) during surgery to collect waste.

Drinking Water


Your surgeon will meet with you to answer any questions you may have before your surgery. You will be asked questions about your health history and a general physical exam will be performed. If your intestine needs emptying, your doctor will prescribe a laxative medicine for you to take the night before the surgery. This is to decrease your risk of developing an infection. Your doctor may put you on a strict diet for a few days or a liquid diet the day before your surgery. Avoid drinking or eating after midnight before your surgery.

Depending on your age and health, you may also have an EKG, a chest X-ray, or other tests. You may also have to provide a blood sample. Additionally, you will meet with an anesthesiologist who will discuss the type of anesthesia you will be given during surgery.


You will be moved to the recovery room after surgery until you’re more alert. Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and temperature. Your nurses will measure your fluid intake and output and observe the surgical site for discoloration and wound drainage.

If you have an ostomy, the nasogastric tube will remain in place until bowel activity resumes. Fluids and electrolytes will be given intravenously until your diet can gradually be resumed. You’ll start with a liquid diet, and once you’ve passed gas or have had a bowel movement, you’ll return to a solid diet.

Colorectal surgery can change the way the bowel functions. Surgery can slow down the intestinal tract and cause the bowel to become swollen. As a result, food may not pass through the colon as quickly. After being discharged, you should follow a soft diet until your follow-up visit with your doctor.

If you’re having colorectal surgery, talk to your doctor about your treatment plan and what to expect from your surgery. This will help relieve any anxiety and nervousness you may have. If you need treatment, look into Peconic Bay Medical Center, one of the best medical centers in Suffolk County, NY.