Laparoscopic Procedure Used to Treat Diverticulitis

The success of a laparoscopic procedure for the treatment of diverticulitis may signal the beginning of a new way to treat many different disease of the colon.

Surgeons at Loyola University Health System have successfully performed laparoscopic surgery on a patient with diverticulitis, a procedure that may change the way that this and many other diseases of the colon are treated.

"This is the future of colon surgery," said Dr. P. Marco Fisichella, assistant professor, division of general surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, who performed the procedure. Fisichella is part of a team of surgeons at Loyola who use the laparoscopic procedure to treat other diseases of the colon, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. "More and more patients needing colon surgery are going to be treated this way," she added.

The laparoscopic technique allowed Fisichella to create only tiny incisions, about the width of a dime, into the patient’s abdomen. Compared to traditional colon surgery, with which a long incision is cut into the abdomen, the laparoscopic procedure results in less pain and decreases blood loss. In addition, the post-surgery hospital stay and recovery time are greatly reduced with the new procedure. After traditional colon surgery, patients are usually in the hospital for 5-8 days, according to the researchers, and full recovery can take 6-12 weeks. After the laparoscopic procedure, the patient only requires 3 or 4 days of hospitalization, according to Fisichella, and recovery only takes 2 or 3 weeks. Patients experience less pain with laparoscopic procedures, the chance of post-operative infection is decreased, and there is less risk for injury to adjacent organs.

For the procedure, a tiny camera was inserted into the patient’s abdomen through one of the incisions to provide Fisichella with a view of the colon; she used another incision to insert instruments and “manipulate the tissue in the abdomen," Fisichella said.

Normal colon function was retained more quickly, the surgeon explained, and the patient was able to return to a normal diet faster in comparison with traditional surgery. In addition, the technique decreases the size of the resulting scar.

"The smaller scar is one of the benefits our patients like the best," Fisichella said. "The incisions are made below the bikini line, so in the end, the patient doesn't see much by way of scars from their surgery."