Reducing your risk of complications
You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan including:
- Ensuring that all members of you care team are aware of any allergies you have
- Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy and other rehabilitation treatments.
- Informing your doctor if you are nursing or there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
- Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage
- Taking your medications exactly as directed
How do I prepare for my colectomy?
You are a very important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can significantly improve your outcome after the procedure. You can prepare yourself for colectomy by:
- Answering all questions about your medical history and medications you take. This includes prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
- Getting pre-operative testing as directed. Testing will vary depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Pre-operative testing may include a chest X-ray, electrocardiography (ECG), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
- If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about losing weight before surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan.
- Following diet restrictions as directed by your doctor. This may include a low-residue diet for a few days before surgery. Your surgeon will restrict eating or drinking just prior to surgery. Your surgery may be cancelled if you eat or drink too close to the start of the procedure due to a risk of complications. These include choking on stomach contents during general anesthesia.
- Stop smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for a just few days can be helpful.
- Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners. You may also need to take antibiotics, enemas, or a special bowel preparation medication before surgery to reduce the number of bacteria in the colon. Your doctor will give you instructions for taking your specific medications and supplements.
Questions to ask your doctor
Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a brief doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. You should contact your surgeon with any concerns before surgery. It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your pre-operative appointments. Questions can include:
- Why do I need colectomy? Are there any other options for treating my condition?
- What type of colectomy procedure will I need?
- How long will the surgery take? When can I go home?
- What kind of diet can I eat after surgery?
- What restrictions will I have after the surgery, and when can I expect to return to work and other activities?
- What kind of assistance will I need at home?
- Will I need physical therapy or rehabilitation?
- What medications will I need before and after the surgery?
- How will you manage my pain?
- How should I contact you? When should I see you in follow-up? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.
What can I expect after my colectomy?
Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after colectomy as smooth as possible.
How long will it take to recover?
After your colectomy, you will stay briefly in the recovery room until your vital signs are stable. When you wake up, you will have a tube in your nose that runs down your throat into your stomach. This tube releases air and drains fluid from your stomach until your body is able to process these substances by itself again.
© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.