Total Colectomy

Total colectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the complete removal of the colon, which is a part of the large intestine. It is performed for various reasons such as colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, and other conditions that affect the colon. This procedure is typically performed by a surgical gastroenterologist in a hospital setting.

In this article, we will discuss the unique and detailed clinical content related to total colectomy in surgical gastroenterology, covering various headings.

Indications for Total Colectomy

Total colectomy is indicated for a variety of conditions such as:

  1. Colon cancer: Total colectomy is indicated for patients with colon cancer that has spread to other parts of the colon or to other organs.
  2. Inflammatory bowel disease: Total colectomy may be indicated for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who have severe symptoms, have not responded to medical therapy, or have complications such as toxic megacolon, perforation, or massive bleeding.
  3. Diverticulitis: Total colectomy may be indicated for patients with recurrent diverticulitis or complicated diverticulitis, such as abscess or fistula.
  4. Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP): Total colectomy is indicated for patients with FAP, which is a genetic condition that predisposes to the development of multiple polyps in the colon.

Preoperative Evaluation:

Before total colectomy, patients undergo a thorough preoperative evaluation, which includes:

  1. Medical history: Patients are evaluated for any underlying medical conditions that may affect the surgery or anesthesia.
  2. Physical examination: Patients are examined for any signs of complications such as sepsis or perforation.
  3. Imaging studies: Imaging studies such as CT scan, MRI, or colonoscopy are performed to evaluate the extent of the disease and to plan the surgery.
  4. Laboratory tests: Laboratory tests such as complete blood count, electrolytes, coagulation studies, and liver function tests are performed to evaluate the patient’s overall health.

Surgical Procedure:

Total colectomy is typically performed under general anesthesia, and the surgical procedure involves several steps, including:

  1. Incision: The surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen to access the colon.
  2. Mobilization: The colon is carefully mobilized to ensure complete removal.
  3. Dissection: The blood vessels and other structures that supply the colon are carefully dissected and divided.
  4. Resection: The colon is removed, and the remaining ends of the intestine are sutured together.
  5. Closure: The incision is closed using sutures or staples.

Postoperative Care:

After total colectomy, patients require close postoperative care to ensure a successful recovery. The postoperative care includes:

  1. Pain management: Patients are given pain medications to manage postoperative pain.
  2. Diet: Patients are started on a liquid or soft diet initially and gradually progress to a regular diet.
  3. Ambulation: Patients are encouraged to walk and move around as soon as possible after the surgery.
  4. Follow-up: Patients are scheduled for follow-up visits to monitor their progress and to ensure that they are healing properly.

Total colectomy is a major surgery that carries some risks, including bleeding, infection, and bowel obstruction. Patients may also experience complications related to their ostomy, including skin irritation, infection, and stoma prolapse. It is important for patients to be aware of these potential complications and to seek medical attention if they experience any symptoms or issues following the surgery.


Total colectomy is a surgical procedure that is often necessary for patients with conditions that affect the colon. While the surgery can be complex and carries some risks, it can also provide significant benefits in terms of improving a patient’s quality of life and preventing the spread of disease. By working closely with their surgeon and following postoperative instructions carefully, patients can achieve a successful outcome following total colectomy.