OSF Medical Group

Bowel Resection

A bowel resection*, or colectomy, is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the small or large intestine. While this procedure is performed for a variety of reasons, it is most commonly used in the treatment of patients suffering from colorectal cancer.

Colorectal Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that around 140,000 new cases are diagnosed and 50,000 deaths occur each year from colorectal cancer. Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in both men and women.

The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, a family history of colorectal cancer, heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, and Type 2 diabetes, to name a few.

Luckily, there are a variety of early detection screening methods available to patients with a screening colonoscopy being the most common. It is recommended for patients over 50 to receive a screening colonoscopy every 10 years and a fecal occult blood test annually.

Preparing for Your Bowel Resection

Our staff will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have prior to surgery. You may receive a physical examination, including blood and urine tests, to ensure you are in good health for the procedure. Please make sure to bring a complete list of all medications and herbal supplements you are currently taking with you to your appointment.

Prior to your surgery, your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications or quit smoking. You will want to eat foods high in fiber and drink up to 8 glasses of water a day.

A few days before your surgery, you may be given a bowel prep including laxatives and enemas. You may be asked to drink only clear liquids. Do not drink anything within 8 hours before your surgery, including water.

What to Expect

Bowel resections may be performed either laparoscopically or as an open procedure. For both procedures, you will receive a general anesthetic. This surgery usually takes one to four hours.

Laparoscopic Method

During a laparoscopic resection, the surgeon will use a series of small instruments and a camera inserted into your belly through three to five small cuts in the skin to perform the procedure.

The surgical team will use these instruments and camera to remove the diseased part of your intestine and then sew the healthy pieces back together. The cuts will also be stitched up when the surgery is over.

Open Method

In an open resection, the surgical team will make a larger cut in your lower belly to access the bowel. They will locate the diseased part of the intestine, clamp it, and remove it. If there is enough healthy tissue left, your surgeon will sew the bowel back together. Otherwise, you may have to receive a colostomy.

In most cases, a colostomy is short-term and can be closed after a period of time. If a large enough part of your intestine has been removed, the colostomy may be permanent.


After your surgery, you will be in the hospital for two to seven days; some emergency procedures may require a longer stay. During your recovery, the staff will work with you to start drinking clear liquids and slowly advance your diet until your bowel is properly working.


Arrangements for a follow-up appointment with our staff will be made upon discharge.

*Not all services may be available at all locations.