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Meeting the surgeon soon,need to listen to your experiences of rectum resection

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi everybody,my hubby is going to finish the preoperative treatment of chemo(5-fu) and radiation on this Friday,so we are scheduled to see the surgeon next week.Hopefully the tumor will shrink a lot or just disappear after this six-week treatment.Although I should ask all these questions listed underbelow to the surgeon,I still would like to listen to your experience of rectum resection first(Only if you would like to share).Any answers,thoughts,suggestions and post would be appreciative.Thank you very much.

1,How long did the surgery take?
2,Have you suffered any complications from the surgery?If yes,please specify.
3,How many days did you stay in hosptial after the surgery?
4,How long did it take you to get fully recovered?
5,What should I be aware of after my husband is back home after surgery?

Thank you.

nudgie's picture
Posts: 1482
Joined: Sep 2006

I did not have rectal surgery only colon surgery. I was DX with Stage II colon cancer in July of 2006 by having emergency surgery. Went to the ER on a Friday, got sent home and went right back on Saturday. Was emitted to hospital and have emergency surgery the following Monday. My surgeon had me recover in the ICU (better care). If memory serves correctly, I was in the hospital for about a week. Keep in mind, it always depends on why physical shape you are in. I was considered to be in real good shape. Surgeon actually told me after surgery that I had no fat. My surgery was a full open surgery with staples.

It took about 3-4 weeks for me to feel like my old self. I had a temp ostomy though. That took some time to get used to. Thank goodness my husband took 100% control over that. I weighed about 126 lbs before DX and after surgery I weighed about 110 lbs. I am now at 144 lbs.

I was luckly and was able to maintain and actually gained a few lbs during chemo treatments. Good steriods :)

I have four surgeries in all:

1) Emergency surgery - DX w/Colon Cancer
2) Port installed for chemo drugs
3) Colon resection surgery & port removed
4) 2nd surgery wound incision repair

I recovered nicely from them all. Only one complication from the colon resection surgery. I developed a very small blod clot in my right lung and went on blood thinners for a year.

3 years later, I am doing good and making sure I enjoy EVERY DAY. I slow down, smell the roses, run the grass through my toes, laugh and play.

We are given one life and one body, let's make sure to take the time for enjoyment.

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi nudgie,thank you very much for your post.My hubby's diagnosis is stageII rectal cancer,the same stage,but different location.Thank you for sharing your story with us.I am happy that you recovered very well.You set up a very good example for my husband,thank you.

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi there.

I had rectum resection and can provide some answers on what happened to me and what I've experienced.

1. Surgery lasted about 6 hours for me. There were only millimeters separating me from a
colostomy so the surgery was tedious with so little tissue to work with in my case.

2. All sorts of bowel complications.
A. Had to return to ER a couple of days after 1st leaving hospital - twisted bowel.

B. Bowel movements for the first 2 years were horrendous and almost unimaginable.
After surgery, it takes time for the "new bowel" to "learn" what it needs to do to
become the new normal.
C. I had bleeding in stools for awhile after surgery - there were leaks in the Transverse
and Descending colons - took multiple colonoscopies to cauterize the leaks to stop
the bleeding.

D. I had bleeding from anal fissures. The tissues at the end of the rectum had been
radiated 25x and the rectum resection was very thin and delicate to begin with.
That bleeding continued on and off for a couple of years until it finally got better.
Not much issue with that anymore.

3. The original hospital stay was 12 days. It takes 7-8 days for the bowel to begin to "wake
up." And you must have a bowel movement before you are allowed to leave the hospital.

The 2nd hopsital stay with trip to the ER lasted another 7 days as it took time for the
bowel to untwist itself fortunately or another surgery would have to have been done.

4. Mine was a hard case, because I had to have an hemhrroidectomy after all of this from the
complications - my total time has been about 5 years for the bowel to be largely what it
will be if I'm lucky for the rest of my life. There are still times when things don't go
well, but you just have to live with it. The radiation destroyed my colon and damaged alot
of other internal organs as well, so that contributed greatly. Docs tell me my insides are
like fried bacon from the radiation damage.

5. When you get him home, watch closely for any signs of fever and vomiting. He will not be
able to eat much for awhile, so what he would be throwing up would essentially be bile from
the pancreas. Watch for diarreah too - the combination of these can lead to dehrydation
very quickly and if that happens, you'll have to get him to a hospital so they can put
fluids in by IV to get him stablized.

Watch for bleeding in his stools - could indicate leaks that need to be cauterized.

Just realize that he will be different in regards to bowel habits and how he processes food in the future...when you mess with the body's plumbing and take parts out, it never works the same again and there will be issues of all kinds at work or anywhere.

Over time, the bowel will heal itself and become the new normal for him as well...you can still lead a quality of life, but anytime you eat something, it has to come out, and that's when problems can occur.

I hated to tell you this, but is what I've personally experienced in my Cancer history. But you asked and I wanted to keep it real and tell you the truth of things that you may or may not experience, but if you do, you know there is someone else who had the same/similar thing.

Hopefully the tumor has shrank enough to allow the resection.

One other thing just came to mind - prior to my surgery, I had another colonsocopy so that the GI could go in and "DYE" the spot with color where the surgeon was supposed to cut and resect. They did this so he would know exactly where to cut, since there were only millimeters to work with. You did not mention this, so I want you to bring this to the surgeon's attention. The surgeon would then have a roadmap on where he needed to go to cut and resect. This is important.

The rectum is not like the big colon, there is alot of room to work with in colon cases and several inches or more can be taken out and resected. Sort of like splicing a water hose together.

But with the rectum, you have very little tissue to work with depending on where the tumor is, so shrinking the tumor allows more room for the resect and clear margins on each side. That's what happened for me - but it saved me a colostomy.

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. You know I will be praying for you and your husband during surgery.

I hope this information has helped you some from someone who has been there and back. Please let me know if you have any other questions that I can help you with.

My continued best to you

Posts: 124
Joined: Jan 2008

When they first diagnosed my cancer, despite numerous testing, it did not show lymph node involvement - so I went to surgery first. The pathology from the surgery showed I had 27 of 38 nodes infected (but my surgeon got clean margins). I only mention this because I was told by my surgeon that when a surgeon has to operate on tissue that has been radiated, it can be more difficult to work with - so my circumstances are slightly different. The flip side is that when you radiate tissue that has just been surgically altered, it can create problems with the surgery area - fortunately, I had no problems in that regard.

Anyway - my surgery took about 4 1/2 hours. My surgeon removed my entire rectum - my tumor (which as a little bigger than a golf ball) reattached my colon to my anus and put in a temporary loop ileostomy.

With regard to the surgery - no complications at all except as noted below. Initial surgery was done in November 2007. My ileo take down surgery was done a year later in November 2008 - after 10 rounds of FOLFOX, 2 rounds of Xeloda and 6 weeks of 5FU while going through radiation. The ileo take down took the longest to recover from - its been about 8 months and I think I'm finally finding some semblance of a "new normal". Whew! I had no infections from either surgery, my scars healed very nicely. No surprises except I did develop a hernia at some point (repaired February 2009), I've heard this is pretty common.

After my first surgery I was in the hospital for 9 days. Home for 24 hours - then back in the hospital for another 7 days because I couldn't stop vomiting. My doctors told me this was very unusual - most people don't have this complication. For some reason my ileo just didn't want to start working. Once my bowels woke up again, everything was fine.

Recovery was slow - this is a major surgery. I'd say a full 6 weeks before you start to feel somewhat human again. But every day is a little better than the previous one.

If your husband is getting an ileostomy or a colostomy I would say do all you can to make him feel like he isn't a freak. That part of keeping him alive is having the ostomy. It's not gross or disgusting - it is what it is - and it's not a big deal. If you haven't already lined up an Ostomy Nurse, try to locate one and set up an appointment for post surgery - a good ostomy nurse is worth their weight in gold. Be patient with him. If he's angry - let him be angry. If he's scared, just try to be supportive. I went through so many different feelings and emotions. I told myself I needed to feel those things and that they would pass at least to some degree, and they did.

Make sure he is managing his pain. My pain was pretty easy to manage with the pain pills and I wasn't on them for long - but you need to manage the pain so you can rest.

If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me - I'll answer anything I can.

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Craig and NWgirl,thank you very much for sharing your experience,thanks for posting so many details that I never knew.I really appreciate.My hubby's case is similar to yours(I mean similar to Craig's)because the dcotor said the tumor was really low.I hope the surgeon will be as skillful as your surgeon,that's all we hope for.Anyway thank both of you very much,thank you for your time for such a long post.

luv3jay's picture
Posts: 534
Joined: May 2009

My rectum resection took about 5 hours and I must say I was in quite a bit of pain afterwards. I think that is because during that resection, they found infection from the liver resection that I had had 6 weeks earlier. So they had to re-open that surgical site to clean that infection before they could resect the rectum. My tumor was high enough up, that it was only a 50% chance that I would have to have an ileostomy. But get this...during the procedure, the surgeon didn't find the tumor! The chemo had completely melted the tumor away. He opted to resect anyway, just in case there were any microscopic cells around. He also removed 11 lymph nodes, 6 of which were positive. My hospital stay was 7 days...they wouldn't let me go without passing gas and having a bowel movement. Sounds easy enough, right? WRONG!! Passing gas was the hardest thing in the world for me. I kept belching, but no gas! After about 2 days, I was able to walk around the hospital ward, but wasn't allowed to have solid foods for about 4 days. I didn't really care about that...just wanted the pain meds. Once I got home, I had to go back to the ER a couple of days later with a fever and vomitting. I had developed another infection. So I was admitted for 4 days with that one. Then had to go BACK again in about a week after that...with a kidney stone that wouldn't pass. It had to be surgically removed! So my February was pretty much spent in the hospital. But all in all, it was horrible. I had a great surgeon who took really good care of me. I will be praying for you and your husband. Be blessed!


Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Thank you very much,Sheri.Lots of thanks to you and your post.I know the surgery is never fun.It looks like everybody suffered a lot from the surgery.I learned a lot from all of your experiences,I will let my husband know it's not going to be a easy road and we will have to prepare a lot.Thanks again.

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

1,How long did the surgery take?
I don't know (was unconscious). I had an LAR for a tumor 5 centimeters above the anal verge. No colostomy.

2,Have you suffered any complications from the surgery?If yes,please specify.
Not really. Umbilical hernia that only shows up on scans.

3,How many days did you stay in hosptial after the surgery?
Ten. That's longer than usual.

4,How long did it take you to get fully recovered?
A couple of days for my appetite to return (was "NPO", no food or drink, in the hospital). About 3 weeks of mild exercise before I started running again.

5,What should I be aware of after my husband is back home after surgery?
I didn't have any special issues when I came back home.


Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Greg,thank you very much for all your answers.I am very happy that your surgery went very well.

dianetavegia's picture
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

My surgery was for colon cancer so I'm sure it's much different but here are my answers.

1,How long did the surgery take? Less than 1 1/2 hours.

2,Have you suffered any complications from the surgery? If yes,please specify. None

3,How many days did you stay in hospital after the surgery? 42 HOURS Regular diet by lunch the next day (less than 18 hours post surgery)

4,How long did it take you to get fully recovered? I walked at Wal-Mart the night I was sent home and was walking the mall the next day. Getting up and down and in and out of the car did hurt, but I took no pain killers except for 1 the night of surgery.

5,What should I be aware of after my husband is back home after surgery? Again, different area and different surgery.

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Thank you very much for your post,Diane.I appreciate.

lizzydavis's picture
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

I had a colon resection on May 15, 2009 (Rectal Stage III – No tumor). Approx. 6" was removed. I was in the hospital for 3 nights. I slept in a recliner when I got home since I was not comfortable in the bed. It was easy for me to get up and down by myself that way and I used a comforter and was cozy.
Things went better than I expected. I hope things go well for your husband. If you have more questions, please feel free to ask. That's why we are here - to support each other.
I was prescribed a Low Residue Diet after my surgery.
A low residue diet eliminates coarse fiber and other indigestible material that may cause distress to the gastrointestinal tract and designed to reduce the volume and frequency of bowel movements. It is similar to a low fiber diet, but also restricts milk and milk products and prunes.---------------------------
This is some info I found which may help you and your family.

-------------------Colon Resection Surgery-------------------------

Details of the procedure ------------------------------
What do I need to do before surgery?
Please contact your insurance company to verify the coverage and determine whether a referral is required. You will be asked to pre-register with the appropriate hospital and provide demographic and insurance information. This must be completed at least five to ten days before the surgery date. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for the procedure.
Before surgery, your colon will need to be emptied. Your physician will give you directions on how to do this. You may be put on a liquid diet and instructed to drink a solution that will induce diarrhea. You may also be instructed to give yourself an enema.

What happens on the day of surgery?
You will report to a pre-operative nursing unit, where you will change into a hospital gown. A nurse will review your chart and confirm that all paperwork is in order. You will be taken to a pre-operative nursing unit where an anesthesiologist will start an IV. Before any medications are administered, your surgeon will verify your name and the type of procedure you are having. You will then be taken to the operating room. After the appropriate form of anesthesia is administered, surgery will be performed.
What type of anesthesia will be used?
You will have a pre-operative interview with an anesthesiologist who will ask you questions regarding your medical history. Colon resections are performed under general anesthesia, which will keep you asleep during your surgery.
What happens during the surgery, and how is it performed?
If your surgery is performed laproscopically, your surgeon will make three to four small incisions, and insert tube-like instruments through them. The abdomen will be filled with gas to help the surgeon view the abdominal cavity. A camera will be inserted through one of the tubes that will display images on a monitor in the operating room. In this manner, your surgeon will be able to work inside your abdomen without making a larger incision.
Your surgeon will perform the colon resection with the laparoscopic method unless other factors require open surgery. If the procedure will be performed with the open method, your surgeon will make one larger incision to enable him or her to view and repair the colon.
Once inside, the surgeon will clamp off the diseased section of colon and then cut it free. The diseased colon will be removed, and the healthy colon stitched back together. In some cases, a colostomy (link to colostomy procedure) may be performed.
What happens after the surgery?
Once the surgery is completed, you will be taken to a post-operative or recovery unit, where a nurse will monitor your progress. It is important that your bandages be kept clean and dry. Mild discomfort may occur at the incision site, so your surgeon may prescribe pain medication. You will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment within two weeks after your surgery.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Most patients are in the hospital from five to seven days with an open colon resection and three to five days with a laparoscopic colon resection. You may need a ride home when discharged from the hospital.
What are the risks associated with a colon resection?
As with any surgery, there are risks such as bleeding, infection, or an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Other risks include injury to the ureter, bowel, or spleen, and anastomotic dehiscence, which is the separation or leaking of the sutured colon. Your physician will inform you of the risks prior to surgery.
What should I watch out for?
Be sure to call your doctor if any of the following symptoms appear:
• Fever
• Worsening pain
• Redness or swelling around the incision
• The incision is warm to the touch
• Drainage from the incision
Will there be scar(s)?
If the procedure is performed laparoscopically the incisions should heal well, leaving small discrete scars. If the open method is used, a larger scar will be present.
When can I expect to return to work and/or resume normal activities?
This can vary from patient to patient. There are no restrictions after laparoscopic colon resection. You will be encouraged to return to normal activities such as showering, driving, walking up stairs, light lifting, and work as soon as you feel comfortable. Some patients can return to work in a few weeks while others prefer to wait longer. You should not perform heavy lifting or straining for six to eight weeks after open surgery. If you are taking narcotic medications for pain, you should not drive.

While you are in the hospital for recovery, stay ahead of the pain curve and if you have discomfort, don't be afraid to ask the nurse for the pain killers. Even when you start feeling better, and you will, stay on the pain meds. They make the stay more bearable.
Also, get up for a walk as soon as you can. They won't let you out until your system kicks back in and the signal for this is passing gas. Walk as much as you can while in the hospital.
Holding a smaller pillow over the incision area. The pillow is comforting. Don't be afraid to ask for an escort while you walk, you wouldn't want to trip or fall.
You will also be very, very thirsty in the beginning and they'll just give you crushed ice, but if you can tolerate it, you can have more.
It takes about 3 months to be back to yourself. So, don't push going back to work or your normal routine too quickly, it will be tempting. Try to stay busy with books, light housework, TV, Internet while you are home. Get outside and walk as much as possible.
Also, if they use staples on your incisions, when they take them out, it's no big deal, most of them I didn't even feel. A couple were only a tickle while being removed. None was painful.

tiny one
Posts: 467
Joined: Jan 2009

I had my resection in Feb 2007. My polyp was lower than the surgeon thought and I had one lymph node test positive for cancer. My surgery was around 5 hours long and I woke up with an ileostomy. They did an epidural before the surgery began, I had a morphine pump on also. I tried to eat and would vomit everytime I tried. My surgeon had to stretch my stoma. I was in the hospital for 10 days. I had lost at least 10 pounds. Took at least 6 weeks to feel stronger. I had chemo and radiation after my resection. Really encourage him to walk everyday and move around alittle. This will make him stronger.

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Lots of thanks and appreciations to Lizzydavis and tiny one.Thank both of you very much for your time and post.I appreciate all the information you provided.I am very grateful to all of you.

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