The term ulcerative colitis means a disease that occurs in the colon where the inner linings of the mucus-coated colon become irritated. This results in the formation of ulcers. The patient will then suffer from gas, swelling and a frequent urge to go to the bathroom where very bloody and soggy stool will be excreted. Surgery is only used when regular treatment, such as medications, does not have any effect, or when the patient is not able to perform their day-to-day tasks properly and feels that there are no more choices.
There are also situations where surgery will be done in an emergency with the occurrence of numerous difficulties such as immense bleeding inside the colon, colon cancer, a gap or tear appearing in the colon causing a great amount of damage or even a toxic mega-colon. This occurs when the colon starts to increase in size as different forms of bacteria and gas start to build up inside the colon. In average, it is seen that nearly 25 to 40 percent of the patients suffering from ulcerative colitis require surgery in the end.
There are three basic surgical methods to treating ulcerative colitis. One such method is to surgically remove the entire colon and rectum. This operation is known as proctocolectomy with ileostomy. This is the only process which guarantees a complete cure to the disease. This surgery will remove the entire colon even if a small part of it is affected. Therefore, having the colon removed will alter the body’s method of getting rid of its solid waste. The stool that is excreted will be in a liquid state. This is because of the inability to reabsorb the water into the body through the colon.
The procedure of the surgery will determine through where the stool will leave the body. It may either be through the anus or through a surgical opening created by the doctors for this very reason. The opening will be connected to the end of the small intestines and an ostomy bag will be attached to the opening to collect the deposited stool. The position of this opening is usually in the lower right abdomen slightly underneath the belt line.
The second surgical procedure available to treat ulcerative colitis is ileoanal anastomosis. This is also known as the Pull-Through method. In this form of surgery, the colon and rectum are completely removed in such a way that the outer muscles of the rectum are left unharmed and in its original position. The ileum is connected to muscles of the rectum so that it creates a form of sack where the stool will deposit and be removed. This is a temporary surgical procedure which is used to help the excretion process until it heals completely. The ileostomy is then sealed after about 12 weeks and the body is then able to remove the stool through regular means.
Continent ileostomy is the final surgical procedure available. It is rather similar to proctocolectomy as the colon is also removed through this method, though the rectum is not. The stool is able to excrete through a small opening created in the side of the body by introducing a tube inside the opening. For safety precautions, a sack is placed over the opening after the first few months of surgery.
Ulcerative colitis surgery may have drastic impacts on a person’s life. It may even change completely. However, discussing the surgical procedure and how to maintain your health after surgery with the doctor is the best way to make yourself a better patient. The doctor will also share advice on how to adjust with life after your surgery and help you make your post-surgical life as normal as possible.