Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


3-minute read

A hemicolectomy is an operation where one section of the colon (large intestine) is removed. Some people who have this surgery may need a stoma - an opening on the surface of the tummy connected to the bowel.

Why is hemicolectomy performed?

The usual reasons for hemicolectomy are bowel cancer, polyps, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease or an abdominal injury.

How to prepare for hemicolectomy

You might need to take 'bowel prep' medicine. This is a type of laxative, and empties your bowel for the procedure. You may need to be on a ‘clear fluids’ only diet prior to the procedure. If you’re asked to do this, plan for a quiet time the day or 2 before surgery.

You will be asked to fast (not have anything to eat or drink) before your surgery.

You may need to stop certain medicines temporarily. Check with your doctor.

What happens during hemicolectomy?

After you are given a general anaesthetic, the surgeon will remove the unhealthy section of your bowel. This is usually done through a single cut in your abdomen, but sometimes this operation may be done laparascopically (‘keyhole’ surgery), through a few smaller cuts. After removing the unhealthy bowel, the surgeon joins the ends of the remaining bowel together.

Sometimes the ends of the bowel cannot be joined, so one end is connected to the skin of the abdomen. This creates an opening known as a stoma. A bag, known as a colostomy bag, is attached around the stoma to store bowel contents as they pass out of the body. You empty the bag regularly. For many people, the stoma is reversed once the bowel heals enough to be rejoined in a later operation.

What to expect after hemicolectomy

A hemicolectomy is major surgery. It will take some time to get over it. When you wake, you’ll have a drip in your arm and you’ll feel drowsy. You’ll be given medicine to relieve pain, and perhaps antibiotics to prevent infection.

You’ll probably feel tired and weak after a hemicolectomy. It can take a few weeks to feel better. Your doctor can advise you how much time you may need off work.

Some people experience constipation or diarrhoea after surgery. Let your doctor know if you are having problems.

You may need to stay in hospital for about 10 days. If you had keyhole surgery, your stay might be shorter.

What can go wrong?

A hemicolectomy is a significant operation with significant risks. Some people have bleeding or infection after surgery. It is also possible for the surgery to damage other organs in the abdomen, or for the bowel to leak. Some people get blood clots in the legs or lungs. If you have this surgery and notice any problems, call your doctor or go quickly to the hospital emergency department.

More information

About hemicolectomy

Visit the Bowel Cancer Australia website for more information about hemicolectomy.

About surgical procedures

Visit the healthdirect surgical procedures page to learn more about surgical procedures in general with information such as:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Cancer Surgery | HealthEngine Blog

Surgical oncology information about cancer surgery in the cancer operation treatment of cancers such as prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer

Read more on HealthEngine website

Colorectal Surgery | HealthEngine Blog

A colorectal surgeon specialises in the diagnosis and manangement of disease that affect the lower digestive tract, particularly the colon, rectum and anus.

Read more on HealthEngine website

Colon cancer: Adenocarcinoma of the colon | HealthEngine Blog

Adenocarcinoma of the colon is a cancer that often arises in the lining of the large intestine. Colon cancer symptoms are investigated by colonoscopy.

Read more on HealthEngine website

Colonic polyps and hereditary polyposis syndromes | HealthEngine Blog

Colonic polyps are elevations in the lining of the colon, some of which may cause colon cancer. They are diagnosed by colonoscopy.

Read more on HealthEngine website


Colostomy Category: Digestive Health Topic: Bowel Movement Problems Send by email View as PDF Send by post A colostomy is a surgically created connection between the colon (part of the large intestines) and the abdominal wall

Read more on Queensland Health website

Colon polyps (bowel polyps) -

Colon (bowel) polyps are small growths of tissue from the wall of the large bowel or colon. Polyps usually don't cause symptoms, but are normally removed so they don't cause cancer.

Read more on myDr website

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Colon and Rectal Cancer

Rare Cancers Australia is a charity whose purpose is to improve the lives and health outcomes of Australians living with a rare or less common cancer.

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Diverticular disease (diverticulosis; diverticulitis) | HealthEngine Blog

Diverticulosis or diverticular disease of the colon is characterised by pouches in the lining of the large bowel which get blocked, causing inflammation.

Read more on HealthEngine website

Pseudomembranous colitis (antibiotic-associated diarrhoea; Clostridium difficile colitis) | HealthEngine Blog

Pseudomembranous colitis, also known as antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, refers to inflammation of the colon caused by bacteria, often due to antibiotics.

Read more on HealthEngine website

Rectal cancer: Adenocarcinoma of the rectum | HealthEngine Blog

Adenocarcinoma of the rectum is cancer in the epithelium or lining of the large intestine. It is hereditary and associated with ulcerative colitis.

Read more on HealthEngine website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo