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A left hemicolectomy is done to remove the descending colon or the left side of the colon. This is the part of your colon that's attached to your rectum. After it's removed, the remaining, transverse colon is reattached directly to your rectum to restore normal bowel functioning. This surgery is generally performed laparoscopically, which is the minimally invasive option.


This surgery is done as the primary treatment tumours located in the left side of the colon. A left hemicolectomy may be performed for patients with a colon cancer or for certain non-cancerous conditions such as Crohn's disease or diverticular disease. For those with colon cancer, radiation and chemotherapy are often part of the treatment plan but surgery plays vital role.

What happens during a left hemicolectomy?

A left hemicolectomy is performed under general anesthesia. In most cases the operation can be performed via a laparoscopic (keyhole) surgical techniques, but may also be done through traditional open surgery. During laparoscopic surgery, small puncture-like incisions are made in the abdomen through which a laparoscope is inserted. Since this tool has a camera and light fitted at the end of, Dr Heyns is given better visualization of the operative area. Through other small incisions, surgical tools are inserted to resect the left side of the colon. This involves taking away the blood vessels and lymph nodes to that part of the bowel. The surgeon then rejoins (anastomosis) the remaining colon to the top of the rectum. The surgeon may use either sutures or special staples to make this anastomosis.

If surgery cannot be performed through "keyhole" surgery, a larger incision will be made into the abdomen and traditional open surgery will be done.

A colostomy may be created to aid healing of your bowels and prevent infection. A colostomy involves an incision being made through the abdomen to connect the colon to an external bag where waste can be collected. This is generally temporary and reversed after surgery, but in some cases may be permanent.

What to expect after surgery

Pain and discomfort can be expected after waking from surgery. Since you may have a colostomy placed after surgery, a dietician will come and speak to you about dietary restrictions and how best to care for the colostomy – be it temporary or permanent. You will need to stay in hospital for two weeks before being discharged. Once home you will need to rest and Dr Heyns will give you instructions for your activity and restrictions thereof.


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