The colon, also referred to as the large intestine, is part of the gastrointestinal tract. The colon has several functions, including reabsorbing water to maintain hydration. Abdominal pain, blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits, and unexplained weight loss, may be an indication that there is a problem with the colon. A colonoscopy is performed by a gastroenterologist to study the colon to determine if there is any disease, polyps, cancer, or inflammation.
Diverticulitis is an inflammatory disease of the colon which in complicated cases may require surgery. It is usually treated conservatively with antibiotics. However, if it continues to recur, or if there is any evidence of complications such as a abscess or perforation, the patient will require surgery.
Colon and rectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide. When cancer is suspected, a colonoscopy with a biopsy is performed. If it is determined there is an underlying colon cancer, surgical removal is indicated. Colon surgery involves removing a portion of the colon. This is referred to as a colon resection or a colectomy. The surgery can now be performed with minimally invasive techniques such as laparoscopic and robotic surgery, which decrease the risk of complications and lead to better surgical outcomes.