Single-Incision Laparoscopic Colon/Small Bowel Resections



UW Health surgeons at UW Hospital and Clinics perform a colon resection to treat complications of diverticulosis, colorectal cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease (such as Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease). A colon resection, or a partial colectomy, is a surgical procedure which removes the diseased portion of the colon and then reattaches the remaining healthy parts. Whenever possible, surgeons will utilize a minimally invasive approach and perform the surgery through a few small incisions, rather than one large opening in a traditional operation. Surgeons have further developed the minimally invasive technique and now offer colon or small bowel resections through only one small incision, approximately 20 mm long.


The Procedure


Laparoscopy requires the abdomen to be inflated with carbon dioxide. One small, round access port is inserted. A laparoscopic camera is inserted through the port into the abdomen. Other instruments are passed through the same port and are used to manipulate the small and large intestine. The part of the intestine affected is released from its internal attachments and taken out through the same port. Once outside of the abdomen, the infected section of bowel is removed and sent to the pathology department for analysis. Most patients may be candidates for intestinal reattachment, which can be accomplished with a stapling device after the affected tissue has been removed.


The Difference of Minimally Invasive

There are numerous benefits to having this procedure performed laparoscopically rather than with the traditional open method:

  • Faster recovery, patients typically make a full recovery within a couple weeks
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less pain post-operatively
  • Fewer post-operative complications
  • Cosmetic appeal - Rather than one long incision across the abdomen, one small, barely visible incision is placed below the navel

When is laparoscopic/robotic colorectal surgery an option?


Nearly all patients are considered candidates for a laparoscopic or a robotic approach and most will benefit from this technique.


While laparoscopic colon surgery does give a slightly improved cosmetic outcome, this is not the reason to consider the approach for most of our patients. In fact, research also indicates that patients have a shorter postoperative length of stay, decreased risk for wound infections, and less pain after the minimally invasive operations.


But despite these benefits, a laparoscopic approach is not for everyone. Patients who are morbidly obese or have had multiple previous abdominal operations are risky candidates. Additionally, patients with locally advanced cancers (cancers that invade other structures like the pelvis, abdominal wall, or other organs) may not be candidates for a laparoscopic/robotic operation. The surgeon will determine the best approach for each individual case.