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Bowel obstruction surgery is performed when the intestines become blocked and waste materials are not able to pass through normally. If the intestines become completely blocked, a medical emergency occurs. An obstruction can occur at any spot on either the large intestine or the small intestine. The type of surgery performed will depend on the location of the obstruction as well as the severity of the damage. Sometimes a portion of the bowel can be removed, and then the bowel can be reconnected, but in other cases this reconnection is not possible.
Colon resection is perhaps the most common form of bowel obstruction surgery. The colon is the last section of the large intestine and sits in the lower portion of the digestive tract. Colon resection is often necessary for bowel obstructions found in this area of the colon. During this type of surgery, the damaged or diseased portion of the colon is removed. Once this has been done, the two remaining healthy ends are surgically reconnected to one another.
During a colon resection, it is sometimes discovered that the damage is too extensive to allow the ends of the colon to be reconnected. In this instance, a procedure known as a colostomy is often performed. This procedure is done by creating a surgical hole in the abdominal wall and pulling part of the colon to the surface of that hole. This allows the waste material to exit the body, generally into a pouch known as a colostomy bag. This colostomy can be permanent, or in situations where the bowel may be able to be reattached at a later date, a temporary colostomy can be created.
Surgery to remove an obstruction in the small intestine is often due to medical conditions such as Crohn's disease. These obstructions can also occur due to adhesions following unrelated abdominal surgeries. If an adhesion is the reason for the obstruction, the surgeon will remove the bands of tissue causing the obstruction. This is generally done as a laparoscopic surgery, meaning small instruments are inserted into the abdomen, avoiding the need for open surgery. Laparoscopic surgery often takes less recovery time than open surgery and requires a much shorter hospital stay.
Another type of bowel obstruction surgery is known as an ileostomy. In this procedure, the small intestine is surgically attached to the wall of the abdomen. This allows the small intestine to bypass the large intestine. This type of procedure is often done along with other methods of surgery. As is the case with a colostomy, an ileostomy may be either temporary or permanent.