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All You Need to Know About Minimally Invasive Colon Surgery

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Your large intestine, which includes the colon, rectum and anal canal, plays a vital role in keeping you healthy by absorbing water and minerals and eliminating food waste. Because of the role it plays in digestion, conditions that affect the large intestine can be life-threatening. Even less dangerous colon conditions can reduce your quality of life and harm your overall health.

Common conditions of the colon that bring people in for medical care include cancer. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. each year, with more than 100,000 new cases expected in 20211 Other potentially serious conditions affecting the colon include inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis (small pouches that become inflamed or infected), and bowel blockages.

Understanding your options

There are several options for managing some noncancerous colon conditions, including medications and changes to your diet and lifestyle. 2-4 If these options fail to relieve symptoms, your doctor may suggest surgery.

If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer your doctor may recommend chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery to remove the affected colon and nearby lymph nodes, or a combination of these options depending on the type of cancer and how far it has advanced.

Surgeons can remove the diseased section of the colon, along with nearby lymph nodes, with a procedure called a colectomy. After the surgeon has removed the diseased section of your colon, he or she may then reattach the two healthy parts of the intestine, performing what is known as an anastomosis. This part of the operation can either be done completely inside the body (known as an intracorporeal anastomosis) or outside of the body (known as an extracorporeal anastomosis).

The surgeon can perform a colectomy through open surgery or a minimally invasive approach. Traditional open surgery requires the surgeon to make an incision in your abdomen large enough to see the colon and perform the procedure using hand-held tools.

There are two minimally invasive approaches for colectomy: laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgery, possibly with da Vinci technology. Both minimally invasive surgical options require a few small incisions that doctors use to insert surgical equipment and a camera for viewing. In laparoscopic surgery, doctors use special long-handled tools to perform surgery while viewing magnified images from the laparoscope (camera) on a video screen.

How da Vinci works

Surgeons using da Vinci technology may be able to remove part or all of your colon through a few small incisions (cuts). During surgery, your surgeon sits at a console next to you and operates using tiny, wristed instruments. The da Vinci system translates every hand movement your surgeon makes in real time to bend and rotate the instruments with precision.

A camera provides a high-definition, 3D magnified view inside your body. Your surgeon may use Firefly fluorescence imaging, which offers visualization beyond the human eye by activating injected dye to light up and clearly show the blood flow to the colon. This may help your surgeon during the procedure.

Dr. Azimuddin, Dr. Raphaeli and Dr. Knapps all perform advanced robotic surgery using the robotic system.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.