The colon and rectal surgeons at Penn Medicine believe that good diagnosis and staging complemented by skilled surgery leads to good outcomes. We have expertise in emphasizing sphincter-saving rectal surgery and minimally invasive (laparoscopic/robotic) procedures. Our continued adoption of innovation in surgical techniques and procedures assists us in finding what best fits each patient’s individual condition. 

We also believe that the most important way to ensure quality diagnosis, staging and aftercare is to collaborate with other specialists. That's why our entire team — surgeons, gastroenterologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, etc. — meets on a weekly basis to discuss our patients and determine the best course of treatment, together.

Conditions Treated with Colon or Rectal Surgery

Colon Cancer Program

Comprehensive Cancer Care

The interdisciplinary colon and rectal cancer program is comprised of colon and rectal specialist surgeons, medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, radiation oncologists, a nurse navigator and many more. As part of the Abramson Cancer Center patients have access to advanced radiation therapy options, chemotherapy and biologic therapies, clinical trials and support services for full-spectrum cancer care and long-term care. Learn more about the program.

Anorectal Disease 

Illnesses located in the anus and rectum are considered anorectal disease. We offer both operative and medical therapies for anorectal diseases. 

The most common anorectal diseases are: 

  • Hemorrhoids — Large, saclike blood vessels similar to varicose veins located in and around the anus and lower rectum that may bleed or prolapse.
  • Anal fissures — Cuts or tears in the perianal skin. . Patients with anal fissures experience severe pain and sometimes bleeding after a bowel movement. Penn surgeons offer both medical and surgical options for treatment.
  • Anal fistulas — Tiny tracts that develop between the anus and other structures as a result of inflammation and infection. Patients with anal fistulas may have problems with chronic drainage and intermittent pain.
  • Perirectal abscess — Inflammation and infection just under the skin. A perirectal abscess can be swollen, red, tender and very painful. It requires surgical drainage.
  • Rectovaginal fistulas — An opening between the rectum and vagina may occur as a result of childbirth, trauma or infection. 

Diverticular Disease 

Diverticulitis is caused by micro perforation, or tiny holes, of benign, sac-like herniation in the large intestine (colon) wall. Although typically treated by antibiotics, we recommend surgery when complications or continued infections arise.

Some complications that may occur and require surgery are: 

  • Colon-bladder or colon-vaginal fistula 
  • Abscess formation 
  • Free perforation (emergency) 
  • Chronic or recurrent infection (persistence of disease) 

Pelvic Floor Disorders

Pelvic floor disorders happen when muscles of the pelvic floor weaken or contract abnormally. Our surgeons are experienced in the diagnosis and the medical and surgical treatment of: 

  • Rectal prolapse — Rectal tissue protruding outside the body causing incontinence, bleeding, and pain. Different surgical options exist to correct this problem and are tailored to the needs of each patient. 
  • Fecal incontinence — Loss of stool control is an embarrassing, but common condition. Surgical repair of the anal sphincters or sacral nerve stimulation may, in select cases, be helpful in treating this problem.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an illness characterized by inflammation of either the small or large intestine or both.

Early recognition of this complex and often severe problem and careful medical management under the supervision of a gastroenterologist is the usual first-line strategy. However, when complications arise from the inflammation or when medical management fails, surgery may be needed.

The most common forms of IBD are: 

  • Crohn's disease — Inflammation can occur in both the small bowel (intestine) and the colon (large bowel). This form of IBD may cause small bowel or colonic strictures, fistulas or abscesses. Perianal abscesses, fistulas and fissures may be a part of this disease. 
  • Ulcerative colitis (UC) — Inflammation is confined to the inner lining of the colon and rectum. 

If you have any questions or are ready to make an appointment, please call us at 800-789-7366 or fill out our contact form

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