Understanding Diverticulitis Surgery

Diverticulitis is an illness that results in one or more pouches of the colon becoming inflamed. These small pouches in your colon are known as diverticula. According to the NIH, the risk of diverticulitis increases as people age. Research also suggests that about 35% of adults who are 50 years or younger in the United States have diverticulitis, while about 58% of people above the age of 60 have diverticulitis. Surprisingly, most people with diverticulitis will never show or experience the symptoms associated with the illness.

However, people that experience the symptoms of diverticulitis can be severely affected. The symptoms of diverticulitis include stomach pain, diarrhea, painful infections, and constipation. In some instances, diverticulitis surgery is necessary in order to improve the quality of life. Typically, surgery is only recommended in cases where other less invasive methods of treatment have failed.

When Should You Have Diverticulitis Surgery?

As mentioned, diverticulitis surgery is only recommended as a last resort. It can be a lifesaving procedure required to treat a ruptured colon. When your colon ruptures, your abdomen will start leaking, leading to inflammation and other serious complications. Similarly, if there’s an abscess that has become infected after drainage then diverticulitis surgery may be necessary. Diverticulitis surgery also becomes a viable option when a person experiences a flare-up of severe symptoms caused by bleeding in the abdomen.

Although it’s possible for the person to be treated using other methods, such as intravenous antibiotics, sometimes the person may have a weak immune system, meaning they won’t be able to fight off the attack effectively. Besides that, diverticulitis surgery may also be necessary if you experience symptoms, such as bleeding from your rectum, extreme constipation or diarrhea lasting for more than a few days, bowel obstructions that prevent you from passing waste, and signs that you are at risk of sepsis. Other than that, it’s quite possible to manage diverticulitis, by taking your prescribed medication, drinking fluids, and avoiding solid food until your symptoms improve.

How to Prepare for Diverticulitis Surgery?

There are several ways to prepare for diverticulitis surgery to increase the chances of a successful procedure. To begin with, you need to watch your diet. Your doctor will recommend a special diet and plenty of water. Right before your surgery, you’ll be put on a clear liquid diet and you’ll be advised not to eat any solid foods. However, you’ll be allowed to drink clear liquids, such as bone broth and plain coffee.

After midnight on the night before your procedure, you won’t be allowed to consume anything by mouth because your stomach must be completely empty. To make sure that your colon is entirely empty, your doctor may recommend different colon cleansing methods, such as enemas or laxatives. Other things that might be required before the procedure include blood tests, X-ray examinations, or other tests that your doctor feels may be necessary.

You may also need to figure out other logistics for after your procedure. For instance, you may need to arrange transportation home and find someone who will be able to help you around the house a few days after the procedure.

What Are the Different Types of Diverticulitis Surgery?

There are different surgical techniques when undergoing this procedure. Regardless of the type of diverticulitis surgery, the patient will be under using general anesthesia, so they will be completely unconscious. However, the type of surgery used will mostly depend on the location of the diverticulitis and the condition of the patient. The surgeon performing the procedure will recommend the best option. Let’s look at the different surgical techniques for diverticulitis.

Colon Resection

This is one of the most common options for diverticulitis surgery. The procedure involves the removal of the infected part of the colon then reattaches the cut ends of the colon. Once the damaged pockets or pouches have been eliminated this only leaves a healthy section of the colon. Although the colon is usually attached to the rectum, sometimes this is not feasible, meaning the surgeon may have to attach a colostomy bag instead. A colostomy is a small hole where stool can exit and enter into a colostomy bag. If the patient is lucky, the colostomy bag may only be temporary meaning that once the inflammation dies down, the colostomy bag is removed and the colon can then be attached to the rectum. However, sometimes the colostomy may be permanent.

Laparoscopic Surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is when diverticulitis surgery is carried out in a minimally invasive way. Instead of open surgery, which requires larger cuts in your abdomen area, laparoscopic surgery only involves small incisions. Your surgeon will then insert tiny cameras and instruments through these small incisions to perform the surgery.

What Are the Risks Associated With Diverticulitis Surgery?

Although diverticulitis surgery can be lifesaving, patients should also be made aware of the complications that can arise because of the procedure. For instance, diverticulitis surgery is commonly associated with complications, such as scarring in the abdominal region or risk of injury to other organs surrounding the colon. During the surgery, the patient is also at risk of internal bleeding, heart failure, or respiratory failure.

After the surgery, the patient is also at risk of infection on the surgical site. In addition, scarring on the colon can lead to an obstruction forming. The person could also suffer from incontinence which is the inability to control when you pass stool. If you’re considering diverticulitis surgery it’s essential that you have a chat with a qualified doctor, so that you’re fully aware of all the risks and complications associated with diverticulitis surgery. This ensures that you can make a fully informed decision about whether diverticulitis surgery is right for you.

What’s the Recovery Process Like After Diverticulitis Surgery?

Immediately after the surgery, you’ll be under the supervision of a qualified medical team. They will monitor your vitals and give you medication to help manage pain after the anesthesia has worn off. Your hospital stay will typically last for up to four days after which you’ll be discharged and be able to go home. The majority of the recovery process happens while you’re at home. It’s important that you get plenty of rest and avoid straining your body because it needs all the energy it can get to heal itself.

Your surgeon will also recommend that you stay away from other activities, such as driving or swimming until you get the go-ahead. As a matter of fact, following your surgeon’s after-care instructions to the letter is the best way to ensure a speedy recovery. Therefore, it’s important to consult with your surgeon at every stage of the recovery process.

Is Diverticulitis Surgery Right For You?

To conclude, diverticulitis surgery is an important procedure that can help treat the complications related to diverticulitis so that the person can have a better quality of life. As mentioned, the procedure is usually recommended if the colon is perforated or if there’s bleeding, a blockage, an abscess, or chronic pain that prevents the patient from leading a normal life.

If you think diverticulitis surgery might be right for you, please give us a call. We will conduct the necessary pre-operative tests to determine if you’re a good candidate for diverticulitis surgery. You can also get in touch if you have other questions about diverticulitis surgery.