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Anterior resection is a surgical procedure to remove the diseased portion of your bowel and rectum (back passage).

When possible, your surgeon will join the healthy ends of your bowel with stitches or staples.

What happens during anterior resection?

Anterior resection is performed using general anaesthetic and usually takes between 2 and 4 hours. It can be performed laparoscopically or as open surgery. Your surgeon will discuss which procedure is best for you.

During open surgery, your consultant will make an incision (cut) down the middle of your stomach. They will remove a portion of your bowel and join the healthy ends together. In some cases it may be necessary to form a stoma. This means faeces will empty from your body through an opening in your abdominal wall and into a bag. Once you and your bowel have healed, another procedure will be needed to remove the stoma.

Your wound will be closed using stitches or staples. You may have a drain (tube) in your abdomen to drain any excess fluid. A catheter (tube) may be inserted into your bladder to help you pass urine. Both tubes will be removed before you leave hospital.

After your anterior resection

Following your surgery you will be taken to a recovery area. You may have a drip in your arm to ensure you continue to get the fluids you need. You will also receive medication for pain relief. Please let staff know if you are in any pain.

Once you are stable you will be taken to your room.

You may be able to begin eating and drinking soon after your surgery. But if your bowels are slow to move your intake may be restricted. You will be given pain medication but please let us know if you are in any pain. Pain relief is often achieved using a patient controlled analgesia device or with an epidural injectionThe anaesthetist will discuss the method to be used before your surgery.

You will be encouraged to get up and move around soon after your operation. This helps prevent any lung problems and muscle stiffness.

Our healthcare team will assist you in learning how to look after your stoma so that by the time you go home you will be able to change the stoma bag and care for your stoma yourself.

Going home after anterior resection

Everyone recovers differently but you will probably go home after 3-7 days depending on your own situation. Before you leave our healthcare team will advise you on any restrictions. They may also give you advice on diet. You should arrange for someone to drive you home as you will not be able to drive until you can perform an emergency stop.

In the first few weeks of recovery you may feel tired and weak. Rest when you can, but try to move about regularly. Begin regular gentle exercise like walking around the house and build up the distance when you feel confident. To reduce the risk of blood clots, take any medication prescribed and wear any compression stockings you received in hospital.

You should avoid lifting anything heavy and any strenuous activity for the first 6 weeks of recovery.

It can take a few months before you begin feeling “normal” again. Any pain can be managed with over the counter pain killers. Be sure and discuss any return to work with your surgeon. You may want to explore a phase return to work with your employer.

As with any surgical procedure there could be complications such as:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in a surgical wound
  • Blood clots
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Nerve damage

Specific complications of anterior resection may include:

  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Leak in the joined area of the bowel
  • Damage to your bowel
  • Reduced capacity to hold your stool
  • Problems with your stoma
  • Need for permanent stoma

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