What is a proctectomy?
A rectum resection (also known as a proctectomy) is an inpatient procedure involving the surgical excision, or removal, of the cancerous portion of the rectum.
There are two forms of proctectomy surgery commonly used in colorectal cancer treatment at CTCA.
Low anterior resection
Low anterior resection involves the surgical removal of cancer located in the upper part of the rectum, which is closest to the S-shaped sigmoid colon. Some adjacent healthy rectal tissue is also removed, along with excess fatty tissue and nearby lymph nodes. A pathologist examines the lymph nodes under a microscope to determine if cancerous cells are present. This information helps doctors stage the disease and determine if additional colorectal cancer treatment is needed.
After the cancerous portion of the upper rectum is removed, the surgical oncologist connects the sigmoid colon with the remaining healthy tissue located in the lower part of the rectum. This allows waste to pass normally out of the body through the anus.
Abdominoperineal resection is used to treat cancer in the lower rectum. Since this procedure requires surgical removal of the cancerous portion of the lower rectum nearest the anus, some or all of the anal sphincter is also removed. The sphincter is a muscle that keeps the anus closed and prevents stool leakage. Because the sphincter is responsible for bowel control, the surgical oncologist also performs a colostomy to enable the body to excrete waste.