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Preparing for Colorectal or Coloanal Anastomosis Surgery

Always Be Prepared
It's normal to feel anxious and to have questions when you are facing any kind of surgery. A little preparation can go a long way towards helping your surgery and recovery go as smoothly as possible.

First, jot down a list of questions in advance to discuss with your surgeon and nurse. Don't be shy: there are no "stupid questions." If it is important to you, it is important to your doctor.

Many people find it helpful to have a family member or friend attend the meeting with the doctor before surgery. When you are feeling anxious, it is natural to forget what the doctor tells you. By writing down his or her response to your questions or by having a friend with you, you can be sure to remember everything.

Second, be sure to carefully follow the instructions your surgeon gives you.

Third, inform your surgeon of any special needs you may have-from diet to medications.

Medicines

  • Discuss with both your doctor and anesthesiologist (the physician who will be putting you under for the operation) any prescription, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements that you take.

    Aspirin and some other over-the-counter drugs can interfere with blood clotting and cause increased bleeding during surgery. This is also true some of herbal supplements, (i.e., St. John's Wort, Ginkgo biloba, and others).

    You may want to simply write out a complete list with the dosages. Make a few copies: one for the surgeon, one for the anesthesiologist, one for the nurse, and an extra that you should keep on hand. Or, if it is easier for you, bring all your medications, over-the counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements when you visit the surgeon prior to your surgery.
  • If you are taking medications, check with your primary care physician to see if you must take the medication or if you can skip it on the day of surgery. For instance, if you are taking blood pressure medicine, your doctor may tell you to take it on the morning of your surgery with a small sip of water.

    If you have diabetes, be sure to check with your doctor about taking your medication - whether it be insulin or pills. Your doctor will tell you how to adjust your dosage for surgery.
  • Be sure to tell the anesthesiologist if you have ever had a bad reaction to any kind of anesthesia.
  • Let your doctor know what pain medication has worked for you in the past and which pain medicines have not.

Allergies/Adverse Drug Reactions

  • Tell both your doctor and anesthesiologist if you have drug allergies or other allergies. Be sure to relate any bad reactions to certain medicines you have experienced in the past. For instance, some people cannot take the pain reliever codeine because it makes them nauseous. Other people are allergic to penicillin.

    You may want to write up a list of allergies and give copies of the list to the surgeon, anesthesiologist and the nurse.

Exercises

  • Your surgeon may prescribe special exercises to help strengthen your anal muscle before your operation.
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Diet

  • The day before surgery, you will be on a clear liquid diet.
  • You also will be given a bowel preparation and an antibiotic. Be sure to follow the instructions for both.
  • Remember to have nothing to eat or drink after midnight before your surgery - unless your doctors have told you to take specific medications. This includes chewing gum, mints, and hard candies.

Hospital Stay

  • In most instances, you will come to the hospital the day of your surgery.
  • The enterostomal therapist (ET) or ostomy nurse will see you that morning. She will mark the location of the temporary ostomy in case one is needed. Your ostomy nurse will discuss the operation and answer any questions you may have. After your surgery, she will instruct you on the care of your stoma.
  • You may want to have someone stay with you during the first night after your surgery. Ask your doctor or nurse if this is possible.
  • Plan on a five (5) to seven (7) day hospital stay.
  • If you have a stoma, home health nursing will be arranged while you are in the hospital. We strongly recommend home health care to ensure that you know how to care for your temporary ostomy in the postoperative period.

When it comes to your medical needs, you are your own best advocate. Be open and honest with your physician. Share your feelings about the operation. It may be reassuring to know that satisfaction with this procedure has been high. The absence of a permanent ostomy has eliminated the concern of many people about their body image.

Finally, remember to enlist the aid and support of family, friends, and qualified members of your personal healthcare team. Together, you can help to ensure the best surgical outcome. For any questions about your surgery, it is always best to contact your physician.

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