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Large Intestine (Colon)

The large intestine is also called the colon. This five-foot-long tube is about three inches in diameter and located in the lower part of the abdomen. It absorbs water from wastes and creates stool. If the colon becomes affected by cancer or another condition, surgical treatment may be required.

Common issues we treat

Colorectal cancer (or colon cancer): Cancer that starts in the large intestine or rectum is called colorectal cancer.

Colon polyps: Polyps are tissue growths that looks like bumps. When these growths appear in the colon, cancer can develop in them if they are left unaddressed. These are usually removed during a colonoscopy. In some cases, they become too large to completely remove with this approach and surgery may be required.

Diverticulitis: Diverticula are small pouches that form on the inner wall of the large intestine. Diverticulitis occurs when these pouches become inflamed or infected.

Colon stricture: When there is a narrowing of the large intestine, it is called a colon stricture. This slows or prevents stool from passing through the colon. This condition can become life-threatening if left untreated.

Procedures available at St. Luke’s

Large intestine resection (colectomy): During this surgery, all or a portion of the large intestine is removed. There are two types of this procedure performed at St. Luke’s:

  • Subtotal colectomy: This is the removal of the colon, but not the rectum.
  • Partial colectomy: This is the removal of part of the colon, but not the rectum.

Colostomy: During this surgery, one end of the large intestine is brought out through an opening (stoma) made in the stomach wall. Stools moving through the intestine drain through the stoma into a bag attached to the stomach. Sometimes these are short-term and can be reversed.

Many times, robotic-assisted surgery can be used to remove part of the colon in a very minimally invasive way. This surgical technique means less post-operative pain, fewer complications, decreased blood loss and faster recovery. Your surgeon will let you know if you are a candidate for minimally invasive surgery during your consultation.

St. Luke’s expert team of general surgeons and physician assistants offer surgical consults at these locations.

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