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Laparoscopic small intestine surgery


Definition: The small bowel (aka small intestines) is primarily involved in the breakdown, digestion and absorption of the food/nutrients we eat. Surgery of the small intestine involves removal of a portion of the small intestine primarily as a result of an intestinal blockage or progression of disease.

Reason for procedure:

  • Adhesions (intestinal scar tissue)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Intestinal blockage or obstruction
  • Polyps/tumors
  • Internal hernias


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and cramps

Treatment options

  • Nonsurgical option: Most intestinal obstructions resolve on their own with a few days of bowel rest (nothing to eat) and intravenous hydration. For those whose symptoms do not resolve, or if an obstruction is due to a mass or tumor, surgery is indicated.
  • Surgical option: Laparoscopic resection of the small bowel or the conventional open resection

Risks associated with surgery

  • Infection of the skin
  • Intra-abdominal infection
  • Breakdown of intestinal connection or leakage of fluid from intestines
  • Postoperative ileus (the intestines slow down/stop working for several days)
  • Intestinal injury

(This is only a partial list of potential complications)

Pre-operative preparation

  • May include blood work, urinalysis, abdominal x-rays, and an abdominal CT scan.

Average hospital stay:

  • Varies amongst patients, but the average patient stays hospitalized for about 1-3 days without surgery and 4-8 days with surgery.

Type of anesthesia required:

  • Laparoscopic surgery requires general anesthesia which blocks pain and keeps you asleep throughout the entire surgery.

Recovery period

Once you have undergone laparoscopic surgery, your recovery period is usually shortened when compared to conventional open surgery. Most patients can usually go home within 1 to 2 days after the procedure although every case is different. You will be given pain medication along with a laxative to prevent constipation. Your activity may be limited to light lifting (no more than 20 lb) for one month.