Colorectal Surgery Resources for Patients and Caregivers
Are you, or is someone you support, having colorectal surgery? We have information that can help you get better, faster after your procedure.
Enhanced Recovery Canada™ (ERC) resources for patients undergoing colorectal surgery explain how to prepare for surgery and what you can do to feel better and safer, in the hospital and at home. These resources include instructions on things like eating and drinking, physical activity and controlling your pain and nausea.
Our patient booklet and animated resource are evidence-informed and guided by best practices being used across Canada. These approaches are helping reduce complications after surgery and the length of time you stay in the hospital. They also help make your experience in the health system better, helping you work as a team with your healthcare providers.
The patient booklet was updated in 2023.
What is colorectal surgery?
Colorectal surgery, also known as bowel or colon surgery, is needed to take out unhealthy sections of your bowel. The bowels are located in your belly. They help your body to get nutrients and fluids from your food. The bowels also move waste out of your body.
There are two ways to do the surgery. Your surgeon will explain which one is best for you. In a laparoscopic procedure the surgeon will make four to six small cuts in your belly. With the help of a small camera, the surgeon uses special instruments to remove the unhealthy part of the bowel through these small cuts. In an open procedure, the surgeon makes a single cut on your belly that is larger (about 10 to 20 cm). The surgeon can then remove the unhealthy parts of the bowel without using a camera.
What is an ostomy?
Some people who have bowel surgery will also need to get an ostomy during surgery. An ostomy is an opening in the belly where stool (poo) and gas pass out into a bag instead of out of your anus. The opening leads to a bag that is emptied regularly. This might be used for a short time, or it could be permanent. Before the surgery, your surgeon will tell you if you need an ostomy. If you need an ostomy, a nurse will show you how to take care of it.
How can you heal safer and faster after colorectal surgery?
Our patient booklet and animated resources for colorectal surgery and colorectal day surgery are designed to help you navigate the surgical journey, including after you’re discharged. They offer evidence-informed approaches that can reduce complications after surgery and the length of time you stay in the hospital. They can also make your experience in the health system better, helping you work as a team with your healthcare providers.