Rocky Mountains Colorado

Conditions and Procedures

Treatment and Surgery for Colon Disorders

The colon is the lower part of your intestine.  It is also called the large intestine.  Its main function is absorbing water and electrolytes so that your stool will be solid.

Several disorders commonly occur in the colon.  Symptoms of colon disorders may include abdominal pain, bleeding from your rectum/anus, change in bowel function (diarrhea or constipation), change in the size/shape/color of your stool and bloating.  However, many colon disorders may not have symptoms.  We highly recommend talking to your doctor about colonoscopy.

Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Some people develop small out-pouchings in their colon.  This is called diverticulosis.  These usually form in the lower left side of the colon.  It is believed that these form due to high pressure from hard stool.  People with high-fat and low-fiber diets tend to make these diverticula.  Sometimes these can cause bleeding.  If one of these becomes clogged it can become infected (diverticulitis).  This leads to pain in the lower abdomen, especially on the left side.  Symptoms may range from mild discomfort to severe abdominal pain, fever and nausea.  Mild attacks may go unnoticed.  Severe attacks may be life-threatening and require emergency surgery.

Diverticulosis does not generally require surgery.  However, patients with repeated or severe attacks of diverticulitis may need to undergo surgery to remove the last part of the colon.  The surgery is done laparoscopically if it is done electively.  Emergency colon surgery is usually performed with a larger open incision.

Polyps and Colon Cancer 

Colonoscopy has been very successful at identifying and removing pre-cancerous polys and identifying colon cancer at early treatable stages.  We highly recommend that you have a screening colonoscopy at 50 years old or earlier if you have any concerning symptoms or a family history of bowel cancer.  Most polyps can be removed without surgery during the colonoscopy.  Removing these polyps likely prevents the onset of colon cancer.  If a polyp is too large or flat to be removed during colonoscopy you may be referred to have a small part of your colon removed.  This is typically done laparoscopically.  

If colon cancer is found you will likely be referred to a surgeon for removal of part of your colon.  This is most often done laparoscopically, however some people will require larger incisions.  Your care will be in coordination with a medical cancer doctor.  Some people will require chemotherapy after surgery, however some early cancers do not require chemotherapy.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis:  These are diseases leading to severe inflammation of the intestine.  These are generally treated with medications, however some patients will need surgery for bowel strictures or severe inflammation.