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What is a hemicolectomy?

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In a hemicolectomy, surgeons remove the left or right side of the colon or large intestine, reports Mayo Clinic. The procedure treats severe bleeding in the colon, obstructions of the bowels, Crohn's disease and colon cancer. After a hemicolectomy, the surgeon usually reattaches the rest of the digestive system to permit elimination of wastes.

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A hemicolectomy is also known as a bowel resection, explains MedlinePlus. A surgeon may perform the procedure using laparoscopic surgery, which involves making several small incisions in the belly, or open surgery, which involves a single, larger incision. In either procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged part of the colon and uses staples or stitches to reattach the bowels.

Surgeons perform bowel resections while patients are under general anesthesia, according to MedlinePlus. Recovery time in the hospital is typically three to seven days. Most people recover fully after bowel resections and can resume normal activities, such as work, sports, gardening, hiking and travel. Possible complications include bleeding, infection, scar tissue and injury to internal organs, points out WebMD. Sometimes, the surgeon cannot reattach the colon to the rest of the digestive system and must perform a colostomy, which involves an opening in the belly and an external bag to collect waste.

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