Ulcerative Colitis Surgery

When surgery is necessary for ulcerative colitis, minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques have several advantages over open surgery. Our surgeons can determine if a laparoscopic approach to ulcerative colitis surgery at our New York, NY, practice is right for you.

Whenever possible, our surgeons prefer to perform ulcerative colitis surgery using laparoscopic techniques rather than traditional surgery techniques.

What Is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the colon, or large intestine. The lining of the colon becomes inflamed, developing ulcers that produce pus and mucus. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon.

Ulcerative colitis can affect part or all of the large intestine.

Candidates for Surgery

Surgery may be recommended to ulcerative colitis sufferers when other treatments such as medications and diet change fail to relieve symptoms. A quarter to one-third of patients with ulcerative colitis will require surgery in the form of a proctocolectomy (removal of the colon and rectum). This surgery can provide much-needed relief to the patient, but requires some lifestyle changes.


Since the colon and rectum are necessary for the digestion and elimination of food and liquids, our surgeons either perform a restorative proctocolectomy or perform a proctocolectomy followed by an ileostomy.

During a restorative proctocolectomy, the surgeon removes the colon but preserves part of the anus, allowing the patient to have normal bowel movements. The diseased parts of the colon and inside of the rectum are removed, leaving the outer muscles of the anus. The surgeon then creates a pouch inside the ileum (end of the small intestine) and connects it to the inside of the anus to maintain collection and elimination of waste.

During an ileostomy, the surgeon removes the colon and creates a small hole in the abdomen, called a stoma. The end of the small intestine is connected to the stoma, where waste will exit the body. The patient will wear a pouch at the end of the stoma to collect the waste. The patient will need to wear a pouch for the remainder of his or her life.

Laparoscopic versus Open Surgery

Both the restorative proctocolectomy and the proctocolectomy followed by an ileostomy can be performed using open surgery or laparoscopic surgery. Both techniques are performed under general anesthesia. The primary difference between the two approaches is that laparoscopic surgery requires only small incisions. Tissue is removed using very small tools that the surgeon guides according to images transmitted to a video screen using a tiny camera called a laparoscope. During a consultation, your surgeon can determine which approach is best for your needs. Occasionally, it may be discovered during laparoscopic surgery that open surgery is necessary.

Following the surgery, the patient will remain in the hospital for several days or longer, depending on the type of surgery performed and how fast the patient heals. Restored bowel function is a condition of discharge from the hospital. A vast majority of patients who undergo this surgery have long-term success.

Benefits of Laparoscopic Surgery

Whenever possible, our surgeons prefer to perform ulcerative colitis surgery using laparoscopic techniques rather than traditional surgery techniques. Because it involves less disruption of tissue, laparoscopic surgery has many benefits over traditional open surgery:

  • Expedited recovery
  • Less bleeding
  • Less discomfort
  • Minimal scarring
  • A shorter stay in the hospital
  • Reduced infection risk

Schedule a Consultation

Our surgeons are focused on helping every patient experience the best possible treatment outcome, and laparoscopic surgery is often the surest way to provide outstanding results. If you suffer from ulcerative colitis and would like to explore the possibility of laparoscopic surgical treatment, please contact us today.