The colon, also called the large intestine, is part the digestive system. After food is consumed digestion starts to take place in the stomach. Food travels from the stomach to the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. The waste products travel into the colon where water and minerals are absorbed.
There are various diseases that affect the colon and rectum that can be classified as: benign (non-cancerous), pre-cancerous, or malignant (cancerous).
Traditionally colorectal surgeries have been performed as "open" procedures with large abdominal incisions. The large incisions have added to the patient's amount of pain and longer recovery after surgery. Since the early 1990s, surgeons have been able to apply the minimally invasive technique to do the procedure laparoscopically. The surgeon operates through four to five small openings to the abdomen. An endoscope, a long slender instrument that contains a small camera on the end, is inserted into one of the small incisions. This allows the surgeon to view the internal surgical field enabling the surgeon to remove the diseased section of the colon. One of the incisions is lengthened two to three inches to remove the diseased portion of the bowel. Once the diseased bowel is removed the colon is reconnected to form an anastomosis (a new surgical connection between two separated parts/organs). The laparoscopic procedure reduces post-op pain, hospital stay, and contributes to a faster recovery.