Colorectal cancer surgery risks and complications

people in operating room

What are the risks?

As with any surgery, there are risks and possible complications with colorectal surgery, although they are uncommon. Be sure to ask your surgeon about these before you have your procedure.

Risks include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots in the legs (DVTs)
  • Injury to your bladder or other organs
medical supplies on table

Possible complications

Complications after colon or rectal surgery are rare. They include:

  • Ileus: Your colon might be slow to start working again. This can be caused by anesthesia, pain medicine, or the surgery itself. An ileus is typically treated by delaying eating and drinking until normal function returns.
  • Anastomotic leak: A leak can happen where your surgeon joined the ends of your colon together. Symptoms are pain, fever, and abdominal hardness. Further surgery is usually required to correct the leak.
  • Adhesions: Abdominal surgery can sometimes create scar tissue between your organs and abdominal tissues. When these areas stick together, there may be pain or swelling. Sometimes further surgery is needed to break up the adhesions.

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