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If you experience problems from diverticular disease, your surgeon may recommend a sigmoid colectomy to remove part of your bowel.
Diverticular disease is the name given to a condition where bulges form in the lining of the colon (large bowel). It is more common with older people, affecting six in 10 people who are over 70. Most people with diverticular disease have few, if any, symptoms, and won’t need surgery. Some, however, will experience problems (see symptoms, below) and their surgeon will recommend a sigmoid colectomy to remove part of their bowel.
This disease is probably caused by years of not having enough fibre in the diet. As the bowel tries to squeeze a relatively small amount of solid matter towards the back passage, pressure causes the wall of the bowel to weaken, causing bulges (diverticulae) of the lining of the bowel through the muscle wall.
Diverticular disease can cause pain in the lower left side of the abdomen. The openings of the diverticulae are small and so can become blocked, leading to infection and inflammation. You may have:
Your surgeon will discuss with you the suitability of surgery. If the affected part of your bowel is removed, these symptoms should disappear. If you don’t have the operation your symptoms will probably continue and may get worse.
Possible alternatives are:
You need to make sure you empty your bowels beforehand – you may be given medicine to help you do this the day before the operation.
The operation takes around one and a half hours and is performed under general anaesthetic. Your surgeon will make a cut in the abdomen and remove part of the colon. They will usually join the ends of the bowel back together inside the abdomen. Occasionally they will need to make a stoma (opening of the bowel out through the skin) for safety reasons. Finally, the cut will be closed with stitches.
After the operation a drip will be placed in a vein in your arm. A catheter will also be placed in your bladder to help you pass urine.
For more information, and if you have any queries about the procedure, speak to your consultant.
Continue your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.
The following can help make the operation a success:
This is not a definitive list and symptoms will vary with each patient. Please ask your consultant for more information.
It is usual for the bowel to stop working for a few days after the operation. As it starts to work again, you will be given more fluid to drink and you will be allowed to eat food. If you have a temporary stoma the stoma nurse will show you how to change the bag.
You should be able to go home five to seven days after the operation, however your surgeon may recommend you stay at hospital longer. It may take up to three months to fully recover from surgery. Your bowels may be looser than they were before the operation and you may find you need to open your bowels more every day. This is normal and should improve with time. Speak to your consultant if you have any questions.
Sigmoid colectomy for diverticular disease costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.