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Small bowel resection - discharge

Alternate Names

Small intestine surgery - discharge; Bowel resection - small intestine - discharge; Resection of part of the small intestine - discharge; Enterectomy - discharge

When You Were in the Hospital

You had surgery to remove part of your small intestine. You may also have had an ileostomy.

What to Expect at Home

You will have pain for 1 to 5 days when you cough, sneeze, and make sudden movements. You may have problems with greasy or bad smelling stools or diarrhea if a large section of your small intestine was taken out.

You may have an ileostomy.

Self-care

Press a pillow over your incision when you need to cough or sneeze to ease pain.

Activity:

  • Do not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk (about 10 pounds) for the first 6 weeks.
  • Short walks and going up and down stairs are okay.
  • Don't push yourself too hard. Increase your exercise slowly.

Your doctor will give you pain medicines to take at home.

  • If you are taking pain pills 3 or 4 times a day, take them at the same times for 3 to 4 days. They control pain better this way.
  • Do not drive or use other heavy machines if you are taking narcotic pain medicines. These medicines may slow your reaction time.
  • Try getting up and moving around if you are having some pain in your belly.

Ask your doctor when you should begin taking your regular medicines again after surgery.

Wound Care

You may have Steri-Strips (small pieces of tape) placed across the site of your surgery after the staples have been taken out. 

Take sponge baths for the first 2 days after your staples are removed. You may shower after that. Ask your doctor or nurse when you can soak in a bathtub.

  • It is okay if the Steri-Strips get wet. Do not soak or scrub them, or let the shower spray land directly on them.
  • Keep your wound dry at all other times.
  • The Steri-Strips will fall off on their own after a week.

Your doctor will tell you how often to change your dressing.

  • Your doctor will tell you when to start cleaning your wound daily with soap and water. Look for changes to the wound as you clean it.
  • Pat your wound dry. Do not rub it dry.
  • Ask your doctor before you put any lotion, cream, or herbal remedy on your wound. 

Do not wear tight clothing that rubs against the wound while it is healing. Use a thin gauze over the wound to protect it, if needed.

If you have an ileostomy, follow your doctor’s care instructions.

Diet

Eat small amounts of food 5 to 8 times. Do not eat 3 big meals.

  • Space out your small meals. Wait the same amount of time between each one.
  • Add new foods back into your diet slowly--one or two at a time.
  • Try to eat plenty of protein.

Some foods may cause gas, loose stools, or constipation as you recover. Avoid foods that cause problems.

If you become sick to your stomach or have diarrhea, avoid solid food and drink only clear fluids for a little while. Call your doctor.

If you have hard stools:

  • Try to get up and walk around more. Being more active can help.
  • If you can, take less of the pain medicines your doctor gave you. They can make you constipated.
  • You may use stool softeners if your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take milk of magnesia or magnesium citrate. Do not take other laxatives without asking your doctor first.
  • Ask your doctor if it is okay to eat foods that contain a lot of fiber or take psyllium (Metamucil).

Ask your doctor if you have questions about ileostomy and your diet

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if

  • You have a fever over 101 °F, or a fever that does not go away with acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Your belly is swollen.
  • You feel sick to your stomach or you are throwing up a lot. Or, you are throwing up a lot cannot keep food down.
  • You have not had a bowel movement 4 days after leaving the hospital.
  • You have been having bowel movements and they suddenly stop.
  • You have black or tarry stools, or there is blood in your stools.
  • You are having belly pain that is getting worse, and pain medicines do not help.
  • Your ileostomy has stopped working for a few days.
  • Your belly is swollen and you feel bloated.
  • There are changes in your incision:
    • The edges are pulling apart.
    • Green or yellow drainage is coming from it.
    • It is redder, warm, swelling, or more painful.
    • Your bandage is soaked with blood.
  • You are short of breath or are having chest pain.
  • Your legs are swollen or if you have pain in your calves.

References

Fry RD, Mahmoud N, Maron DJ, Ross HM, Rombeau J. Coln and rectum. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 52.


Review Date: 12/20/2012
Reviewed By: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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