Rectal Surgery

The surgeons at North Atlanta Surgical Associates use the latest surgery methods and treatments for problems of the colon, rectum, and anus.

Anatomy of the rectum

The rectum is the last 8 to 10 inches of the colon. It also called the large intestine or the large bowel.

Conditions of the rectum

Some of the common conditions of the rectum that may require rectal surgery are:

  • Rectal cancer and polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Anal problems such as hemorrhoids, fistula, and fissures
  • Constipation
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Rectal abscess
  • Fecal incontinence

Rectal cancer

Rectal and colon cancer is one of the most common cancers. About 41,000 cases of rectal cancer are diagnosed each year.

Adenomatous polyps are groups of benign (non-cancerous) cells that form on the rectum, and they are the beginning stage of most rectal cancers. For this reason, polyps are often removed before they become cancerous.

To diagnose rectal cancer, techniques used by your surgeon include:

  • colonoscopy
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • endorectal ultrasound
  • PET (positron emission tomographic) scans

When rectal cancer is discovered early, endoscopy can be used to remove rectal cancer. An endoscope is a small tube that is inserted into the anus and rectum with a tiny tv camera that allows the surgeon to see inside the rectum and remove the cancer tumor or polyps.

The main method for treating rectal cancer is rectal surgery. The surgeon will identify the areas of the rectum where rectal cancer is found and remove them, then rejoin the colon and rectum so your normal bowel function can resume. In some cases normal function can't be preserved, such as when cancer is close to the anus, so a colostomy is performed and the patient wears an external bag to capture waste.

North Atlanta Surgical Associates surgeons are experts in laparoscopic surgery and when possible may use this less invasive surgical method. By operating with a laparoscope, the benefits are smaller incisions, less bleeding, quicker surgery, a shorter hospital stay, and a faster recovery time.

Rectal surgery may be used with radiation treatment and/or chemotherapy to treat cancer, such as when cancer is extensive and has spread beyond the anus, rectum or colon into other internal organs.

Preparing for rectal surgery

  • Before surgery, the patient will be given instructions on how to prepare for rectal surgery.
  • You will stop eating the day or night before the surgery. Your doctor may allow you to have liquids.
  • You will have a bowel prep for 12-24 hours before surgery to clean everything from your colon and rectum so it is empty.
  • The day before surgery, an IV will be inserted in the arm that provides medication and fluids.
  • The patient will meet be interviewed by the anesthesiologist to review your medical history before general anesthesia is administered.

After rectal surgery

The patient will be given instructions on how to care for yourself after surgery. A follow-up will be made with your surgeon and a list of symptoms, which, if experienced, will necessitate the patient calling the surgeon for further assistance.

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