A hemicolectomy is performed for bowel cancer, diverticular disease, Crohn’s disease, trauma and certain rarer bowel disorders. The operation is performed through an incision in your abdomen.
Stop smoking and get your weight down if you are overweight. If you know that you have problems with your blood pressure, your heart or your lungs, ask your family doctor to check that these are under control. Check the hospital’s advice about taking the pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
You may be required to take bowel preparation to clear the bowel prior to your admission. Please follow the instructions carefully. If you come into hospital the day of your surgery, you must fast for 6 hours prior to your operation.
Check that you have a relative or friend who can come with you to hospital, take you home and look after you for the first week after the operation.
Bring all your tablets and medicines with you to hospital. On the ward you may be checked for past illnesses and may have special tests ready for the operation. You will be asked to fill in an operation consent form. Many hospitals now run special pre-admission clinics, where you visit for an hour or two, a week or so before the operation, for these checks.
The operation is designed to remove approximately half of your large intestine. It is necessary to remove so much bowel because of the way the blood supply looks after the bowel rather than because the disease is extensive. Most of the operation will be done through several very small cuts in your tummy (about 1 cm. or less each) but there will be one slightly larger cut (approximately 6 cms.) which will be made towards the end of the operation through which the excised bit of bowel will be removed.
After removal of the dieased portion the two free ends will be joined together. This is what doctors call an ANASTOMOSIS. It is extremely unlikely that you would require a stoma after this operation. (A stoma is a false opening through the tummy so that the bowel contents are diverted into a bag). In any case if you did have a stoma it is likely that it would only be for a short period of time.
For the first couple of days the nurses will help you with your hygiene needs. As you begin to feel better and stronger they will encourage you to do more for yourself. When your bowel begins to work or the doctors can hear your tummy rumbling you will be able to take limited fluids, this will be built up gradually then you can return to a “normal” diet. After a few days you may feel that you want to pass wind or have your bowels opened. Even if you have a stoma this is entirely NORMAL and you may pass a little old blood or mucus. Please keep the nurses informed.
When you first pass stool again it will be liquid and sometimes it takes several weeks or even months to get used to your new “plumbing” arrangement: please be patient with yourself and ask the nurse or doctors if you are worried about anything.