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Small bowel surgery

Small bowel surgery, also known as enteric surgery, is a surgical procedure that involves the removal or repair of a portion of the small intestine. The small intestine is the section of the gastrointestinal tract that lies between the stomach and the large intestine and is responsible for the majority of nutrient absorption in the body.

There are several reasons why small bowel surgery may be necessary, including:

  • Crohn’s disease: a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that can cause inflammation, ulceration, and strictures (narrowing) in the small intestine
  • Intestinal obstruction: a blockage in the small intestine that can be caused by a variety of factors, such as hernias, tumours, or adhesions (scar tissue)
  • Cancer: small intestine cancer is relatively rare, but it can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, weight loss, and blood in the stool
  • Trauma: injuries to the small intestine can occur due to accidents or other traumatic events


The type of surgery performed will depend on the specific condition being treated. For example, in cases of Crohn’s disease, a procedure called a bowel resection may be performed, which involves the removal of the affected portion of the small intestine. In cases of intestinal obstruction, a procedure called a bowel decompression may be performed to relieve the blockage. In cancer cases, a surgical resection to remove the tumour and surrounding tissue may be necessary.

The surgical procedure is typically performed under general anaesthesia and can take several hours, depending on the complexity of the case. Open surgery, which involves making a large incision in the abdomen, is still used in some cases, but laparoscopic surgery, which uses small incisions and specialised instruments, is becoming increasingly common. Laparoscopic surgery is less invasive and has a shorter recovery time.

After the surgery, patients will need to stay in the hospital for several days to recover. They will be given fluids and medications to help manage pain and prevent infection. Patients will also be placed on a clear liquid diet and gradually advanced to a regular diet as tolerated. Depending on the type of procedure, patients may need to follow a low-fibre, low-residue diet for some time.

The recovery time for small bowel surgery can vary depending on the type of procedure and the overall health of the patient. In general, patients can expect to return to normal activities within 4-6 weeks of the surgery. However, some patients may experience complications such as infection, bleeding, or bowel obstruction. In rare cases, a second surgery may be necessary.


The outcome of surgical treatment varies and depends on various factors such as the stage and location of the cancer, the overall health of the patient and the expertise of the surgical team.

Recovery from surgery can take several weeks or even months, depending on the extent of the surgery. Pain and discomfort are common after the surgery, and patients will likely need to follow a special diet to help the healing process. They will also need to have regular follow-up appointments with Dr Lorenzo to monitor their recovery.