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A low anterior resection (LAR) is a common surgery done for rectal cancer. This procedure involves the removal of the cancer-ridden part of the rectum and restructuring of the remaining colon to allow for normal bowel movements. As a general surgeon with a particular interest in laparoscopic colorectal surgeries, if a low anterior resection is deemed necessary, you can rest assured knowing you are in good hands.


This surgery is done for rectal cancer. While radiation and chemotherapy are often part of the treatment plan, surgery is generally advised.

The type of surgery used depends on the location and stage of the cancer, but a low anterior resection (LAR) can be done for upper, mid and lower rectal tumours. This type of colon resection surgery is commonly used in treating stage 2 and 3 rectal tumors, and in rare cases, stage 1 tumors.

What happens during a laparoscopic lower anterior resection?

A low anterior resection is done with general anesthesia. Since this surgery is done laparoscopically, there will be no need for large incisions. Instead only small puncture-like incisions will be made in the lower abdomen. From there Dr Heyns will insert a thin tube-like surgical tool known as a laparoscope. This laparoscope is fitted with a light and camera to allow for visualisation of the internal organs. These images will show Dr Heyns the internal organs on a monitor while he performs surgery.

During a low anterior resection (LAR) the part of the rectum containing the tumor is removed along with a small margin of the surrounding tissue. Thereafter the remaining part of healthy rectum is connected to the colon to restore normal bowel functioning and bowel movements.

The video below shows how the sigmoid colon as well as a portion of the rectum is removed.

To allow the rectum and colon to heal without risking infection, a temporary colostomy or ileostomy is created. This requires a small incision being made through the skin of the abdomen. Through this opening (stoma) the colon is connected to a bag on the outside of the body so that waste can be removed from the body. This is generally temporary and once healing is complete this surgery is reversed and normal bowel movements are restored.

What to expect after surgery

Upon waking from surgery, you can expect some pain near the incisions. You will also have a temporary colostomy or ileostomy placed to aid healing while the rectum and colon heal. This surgery may be reversed afterwards, about 8 weeks later. Depending on how the surgery was done and the overall health of the patient, recovery may take 3 to 6 weeks.

Depending on your treatment plan, radiation and chemotherapy may be necessary after surgery. It should also be known that surgery has various risks and there is the possibility of slightly less-than-perfect continence after surgery.


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