Small Bowel Surgery

What is the Small Intestine?

The small intestine is a long, narrow, folded or coiled tube extending from the stomach to the large intestine; it is the region where most digestion and absorption of food takes place. It is about 22 to 25 feet long. Nerves lead to the small intestine which control muscular contractions that move food along the tract (peristalsis). Three successive regions of the small intestine are distinguished: duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.

Why Do I Need a Small Bowel Resection?

A variety of conditions can damage your small bowel. In other cases, a portion of it may have a disease or abnormality that requires removal. Sometimes part of your small bowel may be removed to confirm or rule out a disease when a “tissue diagnosis” is required.

Conditions that might require surgery include:

  • Bleeding, infection, or severe ulcers in the small intestine such as those caused by Crohn's disease.

  • Blockage in the intestines, either congenital (present at birth) or from scar tissue acquired after prior surgeries, or from abdominal wall hernias.

  • Noncancerous tumors

  • Cancer

  • Injuries to the small intestine

  • Meckel's Diverticulum (a pouch of intestine present at birth)

Diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines may also require surgery. Such conditions include:

  • Crohn's disease

  • Ulcerative colitis

How is a small bowel resection performed?

General anesthesia is necessary for this surgery. Depending upon the reason for surgery, the procedure can take between one and eight hours. Surgery may be performed in an open fashion or minimally invasive approach; this depends on a myriad of factors that Dr. Paracha will to take into account. Also, depending on the reason for surgery, at the end of the procedure Dr. Paracha will have to address the tow open ends of intestine. They may be sewn or stapled together; this is called an anastomosis. It’s the most common surgery. Sometimes the intestine can’t be reconnected, in this case Dr. Paracha will have to make a stoma, in this case the intestine is brought out through an opening in the abdominal wall and your intestine will drain out into a sealed pouch or drainage bag. This process is known as an ileostomy. The ileostomy may be temporary to allow intestine further down the system to heal completely, or it may be permanent.

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