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Treatment Options

Many conditions and diseases can affect the gastrointestinal tract, such as:

  • Rectal cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), (includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease)

These conditions may cause chronic pain, as well as other disabling symptoms. When medication, lifestyle changes and other non-surgical treatments cannot relieve symptoms, surgery may be recommended.

During rectal cancer surgery, known as low anterior resection, the surgeon removes the diseased part of the rectum without affecting the anus. The colon is then attached to the remaining part of the rectum. This allows patients to move their bowels in the usual way and avoid colostomy (portion of large intestine brought through the abdomen to carry stool out of the body) bag.

In cases where the cancer is located very low in the rectum and invades the anal muscles, an abdominoperineal resection (commonly called APR) may be required. During an APR, the entire rectum is removed. Unfortunately, this procedure will require a colostomy bag for the patient.

During surgery for colon cancer, diverticulitis or IBD, all or part of the diseased colon is removed during what is called a colectomy, colon resection or hemicolectomy. Surgery on your right colon (ascending) is called a right colectomy; surgery on your left colon (descending) is a left colectomy; and surgery on the sigmoid colon (lower left colon just before the rectum) is called a sigmoid colectomy.

Surgery may be performed using open surgery or minimally invasive surgery.

  • Open Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery

All surgery presents risk, including da Vinci Surgery. Results, including cosmetic results, may vary. Serious complications may occur in any surgery, up to and including death. Examples of serious and life-threatening complications, which may require hospitalization, include injury to tissues or organs; bleeding; infection, and internal scarring that can cause long-lasting dysfunction or pain. Temporary pain or nerve injury has been linked to the inverted position often used during abdominal and pelvic surgery. Patients should understand that risks of surgery include potential for human error and potential for equipment failure. Risk specific to minimally invasive surgery may include: a longer operative time; the need to convert the procedure to an open approach; or the need for additional or larger incision sites. Converting the procedure to open could mean a longer operative time, long time under anesthesia, and could lead to increased complications. Research suggests that there may be an increased risk of incision-site hernia with single-incision surgery. Patients who bleed easily, have abnormal blood clotting, are pregnant or morbidly obese are typically not candidates for minimally invasive surgery, including da Vinci Surgery. Other surgical approaches are available. Patients should review the risks associated with all surgical approaches. They should talk to their doctors about their surgical experience and to decide if da Vinci is right for them. For more complete information on surgical risks, safety and indications for use, please refer to

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