Rectal resection is performed to remove a particular segment of the large intestine. The last part of the large intestine (or colon) is known as the rectum. It serves as a holding vault for stool prior to evacuation with a bowel movement. It sits deep within the bony pelvis of the body and thus is a difficult region to get to surgically and requires a specialist with extra surgical training for this purpose.
Surgery on the rectum may be required for a variety of reasons including cancer, a large polyp or an area of inflammation such as inflammatory bowel disease. Additionally, conditions such as rectal prolapse, problems with continence and other benign diseases may require surgery on the rectum. Rectal procedures may be performed laparoscopically or using minimally invasive techniques offered at Keck Medicine of USC.
Following surgery, patients often go through an adjustment period with changes in the number and frequency of stools, and they may experience temporary diarrhea, incontinence or urgency when compared to their preoperative function. Often, these symptoms improve with time. Because of the nature of rectal surgery, some patients require a temporary ostomy, or bag on the skin for stool while the area heals. This serves to minimize the risk of problems in the healing process.