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Small Bowel Resection- How Can Removing the Intestines Help You

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Your small bowel (intestines) is like the Pan American Highway. Everything you put in your stomach travels through this 6-meter long tube(in adults) to the colon whereupon it takes the long intestine route to the rectum, all the while being digested in bits and pieces.


90% of water absorption and food’s chemical digestion happens in the small intestine. If an injury or disease were to affect this structure, your digestive system would be in complete upheaval. Often, treating this damage means removing a section of your small bowel via surgery, also termed as Small Bowel Resection.

What May Cause a Need for Small Bowel Resection?

Any injury to the small intestine that’s severe enough to cause significant function loss has the potential to destroy a section of the tube. Ulcers, blockage, scar tissue accumulation, infection, bleeding, polyps, or congenital conditions like Meckel’s diverticulum could be a reason behind the damage.

Inflammation of the intestines is another serious issue that could arise out of Crohn’s disease, regional enteritis or paralytic ileus. Gastric dumping syndrome, intussusception, gallstones, foreign bodies forming a mass in the lumen, or an inguinal hernia can also disrupt your small bowel.

How Does the Surgery Help?

If your small intestine hasn’t deteriorated completely, the surgeon will perform an anastomosis. He will take the damaged sections apart and staple or stitch the healthy parts together by their ends. If, however, your small bowel has gone beyond the point of repair, the surgeon will opt for an ileostomy, either permanent or temporary.

Extreme bowel damage reduces the functioning capability of the rectum as well, making it tough to flush the waste out of your body. In such a case, the colon and rectum are often removed. To assist excretion, the surgeon will make an opening called stoma along the outer wall of your belly by attaching a part of the small intestine (ileum end) to it. Stool and waste will go out into a drainage bag through this stoma.

Anastomosis can be an open surgery or a laparoscopy. Ileostomy, on the other hand, is a more involved and care-demanding process. The stoma has no nerve endings, thus making its movements painless. However, it also has no squeezing muscles, and thus you can not control the waste it releases, making the drainage bag a necessary accessory that has to be worn all the time and changed 5-8 times each day.

Are There Any Risks in the Procedure?

Any surgery that involves anaesthesia and cutting a person open has some likelihood of menacing side-effects. Blood clots, stroke, allergic reaction to anaesthesia, infection, breathing or bleeding issues are typical examples of said complications.

In small bowel resection, a specific batch of complications is related to the intestines and organs around it. Internal bleeding in the belly, pus accumulation, frequent diarrhoea, incisional hernia, scar tissue that may block the intestines, leaking of the anastomosis junction, a cracked or infected incision, or issues with the stoma could mess up the process and require further surgeries, medication, or therapies to fix the matter.

How Can You Help This Situation?

Small bowel resection can keep you in the hospital for about a week at best given the situation was planned and not a case of emergency. If any grave complications arise, the stay can turn into a longer one.

Under general conditions, you’ll be drinking clear liquids within two-three days. As your bowel regains its strength, your diet will be shifted to soft food and thick fluids. A successful surgery and well-timed recovery can get you back on your feet and leave you able for outdoor activities. However, in cases of large intestine sections being removed, loose stools and nutrient scarcity can become prevalent issues.

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