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Colorectal Surgery

  • What is colorectal surgery?

    Colorectal surgery

    Colorectal surgery includes several surgical procedures that deal with damage to the colon, rectum and anus. This damage can be caused by injuries or disorders that affect the lower region of the body, such as colorectal cancer, polyps, diverticular disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

    Common colorectal surgical procedures include:

    • Colectomy – Removal of a portion of the colon (called partial colectomy) or the entire colon (called total colectomy)
    • Colostomy – Creation of an opening for the colon through the abdomen
    • Haemorrhoidectomy – Procedure for removal of haemorrhoids
    • J-Pouch procedure – Creation of a pouch at the end of the small intestine and attaching the pouch to the anus
    • Rectopexy – Procedure to repair rectal prolapse

    Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer among men, and the second most common cancer among women in Singapore. Depending on how advanced the cancer is, it can be treated through partial colectomy or total colectomy. If the cancer is extensive and leads to blockage of the colon, the surgeon may opt to perform a colostomy to allow drainage of the bowel contents.

    The 2 major types of colorectal surgery are open surgery and minimally invasive surgery. In an open surgery, the procedure is done through a long cut in the abdomen. The minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery (keyhole surgery) is now the preferred surgical treatment of several colorectal diseases. It is the most commonly used procedure in colorectal surgery in Singapore. This procedure is done by making small cuts (buttonhole) on the abdomen, through which laparoscopic instruments are inserted using advanced imaging guidance.


    Minimally invasive surgery can be conducted using robotic surgery, which may have advantages over the conventional approach. Download our brochure, ‘Benefits of Robotic Surgery for Colorectal Cancer’, to learn more.

  • Your doctor may recommend colorectal surgery to treat various benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) colorectal conditions, such as:

    If you suffer from colorectal cancer, you are likely to have surgery to remove the tumour. The surgery is usually done as a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure. The cancer can also be treated in an open surgery to remove the tumour and some of the nearby colon tissues and lymph nodes.

    Laparoscopic colorectal surgery is done with minimal discomfort and fewer complications, and it allows faster recovery and return to normal daily activities as compared to open surgery. However, your doctor needs to decide whether you are a suitable candidate for this type of surgery first. If you have very large lesions, suffer severe cardio-respiratory conditions, or have undergone several other abdominal surgeries before, you may not be suitable for laparoscopic colorectal surgery.

  • Preparing for a colorectal surgery

    Once you are scheduled for a colorectal surgery, your doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your procedure. Depending on your age and other comorbid diseases, your doctor may order tests such as a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, lung function tests, and blood tests to check your general health status.

    The day before your surgery, your doctor will ask you to have a light breakfast and to consume only liquids for the remainder of the day. You will also be advised to take laxatives to clear the contents of your bowel.

    On the day of the procedure, you will be advised not to eat or drink anything. Your doctor may instruct you to take some prescribed medicines with very small sips of water.

    During a colorectal surgery

    Once you are brought to the operating room, the nurses will help you like down on the operating table. The anaesthesiologist will give you medications to put you to sleep and make you comfortable during the procedure.

    The length of the procedure depends on the extent of surgery to be performed and whether any complications occur during the procedure. Most laparoscopic surgeries take around 2 – 3 hours to complete. Open surgeries may range from 1 – 4 hours depending on the complexity of the procedure.

    Post-colorectal surgery

    When you wake up after surgery, you will experience some pain in your abdomen for a few days. Your doctor will give you pain medications to help you feel more comfortable.

    To allow your bowels to recover, your doctor will advise you to consume only liquids for the first few days after surgery. Most often, patients are able to eat solid food after a few days.

    Colorectal surgery recovery period

    After the surgery, your condition will be monitored in the hospital for around 2 – 4 days if you had laparoscopic surgery. If you had open surgery, you may be asked to stay in the hospital for about a week. Once your doctor clears you for discharge, you can continue your recovery period at home.

    Try to take it slow while you recover at home. You are likely to have some pain in your abdomen, and you may feel tired or nauseous at times. You may also notice some blood in your stool, and your bowel movements may not be regular for a few weeks. Do not lift heavy objects or engage in intense physical activity until your doctor gives you clearance to do so.

    The recovery period is shorter if you underwent a laparoscopic surgery. Most patients feel better after 1 – 2 weeks, with full recovery in about 2 – 4 weeks. If you underwent an open surgery, it usually takes around 6 weeks to fully recover.

    Risks and complications of colorectal surgery

    Similar to other surgical procedures, there are risks and possible complications when you undergo colorectal surgery. Some common complications include:

    • Wound infection
    • Bleeding
    • Abscess formation inside the abdomen
    • Damage to surrounding organs
    • Temporary delay in bowel motility (called ileus)
    • Leaks from the remaining parts of the bowel
    • Bowel obstruction due to formation of scar tissues (called adhesions) inside the abdomen
  • Your goal of getting swift, accurate and effective treatment is our strength. Our skilled team of specialists and staff at Gleneagles Hospital is committed to placing your needs foremost. High-quality, customised healthcare has been our legacy for more than 50 years.

    At Gleneagles Hospital, we have over 26 board-certified gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons who are experienced in treating various colorectal conditions. Our surgeons are skilled at performing different colorectal surgeries, including minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. Our operating theatre features modern equipment and are designed to provide a safe and comfortable environment for our patients. With our complete team of specialists, nurses, allied health professionals and dietitians, we provide comprehensive medical and surgical care for patients with colorectal diseases.

    Consult a specialist today if you have any colorectal concerns.

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