Minimally Invasive Colorectal Surgery

Dr. Hurst in front of images

University of Chicago surgeons are using sophisticated minimally invasive surgical techniques to treat a wide range of colorectal problems. From removing cancerous growths to treating inflammatory bowel disease, our team of expert surgeons are performing advanced procedures through multiple small incisions (less than one inch), and in some cases, without any incisions at all.

The benefits of minimally invasive colorectal surgery versus open-abdominal procedures include:

  • Less pain
  • Less injury to tissue
  • Minimal scarring
  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster return to normal activities

At the University of Chicago Medicine, our physicians are leaders in treating colorectal problems. Our experienced surgeons are a key part of the team of specialists who have been recognized year after year by U.S.News & World Report for excellence in the treatment of digestive diseases and cancer. Other highlights of our minimally invasive colorectal surgery program include the following:

  • More than 50 percent of colorectal surgeries performed at the University of Chicago are done using minimally invasive techniques. In fact, we have performed more laparoscopic colorectal procedures than any other academic medical center in Illinois, and rank among the top 5 percent of academically affiliated hospitals in the country for volume of laparoscopic colorectal procedures performed.
  • Our surgeons perform some procedures via robot-assisted surgery, which can improve precision during the procedure.
  • The surgical team offers transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM), a new minimally invasive technique in which certain early or superficial rectal tumors can be removed through the anus. Since no incisions are required, patients generally experience no pain, their bowel movements are not altered, and they are usually able to leave the hospital within one to two days.
  • These same experts are continuing to refine the art of minimally invasive surgery, by developing new surgical tools and researching innovative surgical techniques.

Procedures Offered

Below is a list of minimally invasive colorectal surgery procedures offered at the University of Chicago Medicine. This list will continue to grow as we add more minimally invasive surgical options.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Procedures

These procedures are used to treat Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and related inflammatory bowel disease problems.

  • Small bowel resection: Removal of part of the small intestine
  • Segmental colectomy/left or right colectomy: Removal of a portion of the colon »More about colectomy
  • Total abdominal colectomy: Removal of the entire colon »More about colectomy
  • Total proctocolectomy: Removal of the colon, rectum, and anus
  • Restorative proctocolectomy with ileoanal pouch anastomosis: Following the removal of the colon and rectum, the small intestine is formed into a pouch and connected to the anus. This pouch allows for collection of waste, which can exit through the anus. Muscle function is left intact so bowel movements can be controlled.
  • Stoma creation for fecal diversion: This surgery creates an opening in the abdomen for stool to pass through.

Colorectal Cancer Procedures

For diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the colon, rectum, and small bowel:

  • Staging laparoscopy: These procedures are performed to determine the extent of the cancer, or to "stage" the cancer. Information gathered from this examination helps physicians create the best treatment plan.
  • Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM): a minimally invasive technique in which certain early or superficial rectal tumors can be removed through the anus
  • Segmental colectomy/left or right colectomy: Removal of a portion of the colon »More about colectomy
  • Abdominal perineal resection: Removal of the anus, rectum, sigmoid colon, and creation of a permanent colostomy
  • Total abdominal colectomy: Removal of the entire colon »More about colectomy
  • Total proctocolectomy: Removal of the colon, rectum, and anus
  • Small bowel resection: Removal of part of the small intestine
  • Stoma creation for fecal diversion: This surgery creates an opening in the abdomen for stool to pass through.

Other, Benign Procedures

  • Diagnostic laparoscopy: Physicians perform this procedure to diagnose disease.
  • Small bowel resection (removal) for radiation enteritis
  • Total abdominal colectomy: Removal of the colon for intractable chronic constipation, or familial polyposis »More about colectomy
  • Correction of volvulus, or twisting of the large intestine
  • Segmental colectomy: Removal of part of the colon for ischemic bowel disease, or diverticular disease »More about colectomy
  • Rectopexy for rectal prolapse: This involves the surgical placement of internal sutures to secure the rectum in place.