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Ulcerative Colitis: Life After Surgery

By Steve Joseph

It is an unfortunate reality that many people suffering from ulcerative colitis will require surgery to rectify obstructions in the intestine. This surgery is often unplanned due to the fact that it is usually conducted at short notice and under emergency conditions. There are many horror stories that describe sufferers of ulcerative colitis being rushed to hospital with abdominal pains and waking up after having 18 inches of their intestines removed. Sadly, medical professionals are yet to find a cure for colitis and therefore surgeons are left to deal with symptoms when they are otherwise impossible to treat. If surgery is unavoidable however, it is possible to reclaim a normal life depending on the extent of the surgery and how much of the intestines were removed.

Surgery to rectify and intestinal obstructions or blockages from sufferers of ulcerative colitis can be divided into two categories, small intestine surgery and large intestine surgery.

After small intestine surgery, the bowel is capable of increasing its absorptive capacity to compensate for the loss of the removed section of the intestine. Therefore, by allowing the intestines to heal properly and adjust to the changes, a person with colitis can return to life as normal. This includes a return to the regular diet that was consumed before surgery was performed. In severe cases where a more significant amount of the intestine is removed, the remaining intestine may be unable to fully compensate for the loss of surface area. The obvious alternative to an underperforming intestine is to increase the caloric value of food that is consumed. This should balance the deficit in food absorption and reduce the amount of weight that is lost as a result of the surgery. In cases of severe ulcerative colitis, food supplements may need to be delivered to the stomach via a tube or alternatively, into the blood stream.

Following large intestine surgery, a special diet of high caloric value is rarely needed. This is due to the fact that much of the function of the large intestine is related to water absorption. The initial diet following the operation will most likely be dominated by liquids and slowly transition back to a regular diet. In cases where the whole intestine is removed, an ileostomy will be formed using the surrounding tissue. Due to the function of the colon in absorbing water and salt, both will need to be consumes in higher amounts.

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