Colon and Rectal Disease

Colon and Rectal Disease

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Duke specialists use the latest techniques to diagnose and treat colon and rectal disease. We recommend the most effective, least invasive treatments customized for your needs.

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We Treat the Full Range of Colon and Rectal Diseases

We work daily with patients who suffer from colon and rectal discomfort. This includes treating challenging, long-term colorectal conditions such as profound constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and fecal incontinence. We also treat intestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, fissures, warts, strictures, and painful abscesses.

We specialize in the latest diagnostic technologies and screening procedures. If surgery is required, we use less invasive surgical techniques that result in minimal discomfort and scarring. If you have colonrectal, or anal cancer, our cancer team uses the latest techniques to diagnose and treat your cancer. 

Our experience helping many patients across a range of conditions allows us to personalize the best plan for your recovery. Our focus is on getting you back to good health.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Treatments

Nonsurgical Disease Management

Many colon and rectal conditions may be manageable with diet changes and careful monitoring. After a thorough evaluation, we may initially encourage a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Increasing water consumption and fiber intake may help with constipation and reduce lower bowel pressure. These proactive steps may reduce your symptoms and help you avoid surgery. Regular monitoring is essential for proactive colorectal disease care.

Surgery

We are committed to minimally invasive procedures that promote quicker healing. We perform 80 percent of colorectal procedures through laparoscopic or robotic surgery.

  • Laparoscopic surgery: Sometimes called keyhole surgery, laparoscopic surgery allows us to make minimal incisions, which results in less discomfort, lower infection risk, and reduced scarring.
  • Robotic surgery: Like laparoscopic surgery, this technique involves minimal incisions. It also affords your surgeon improved images and greater precision in performing the procedure. Our surgeons have a wealth of experience using robotic surgical techniques. We can remove lesions more fully and reduce the risks for leaks and infection associated with open surgery.
  • Transanal endoscopic microsurgery: Used for some colorectal procedures to minimize the complications associated with abdominal surgery. This laparoscopic procedure is initiated through the anus and leaves no scars.

Revision Surgeries

Some colorectal conditions require more than one surgery for complete recovery and healing. This may also be true if your condition is chronic. We specialize in assessing the need for revision or repeated surgeries. Our commitment to imaging technologies allows our physicians to select a surgical approach designed to treat your condition most effectively.

Sacral Nerve Stimulator

Targets the sacral nerve, which controls the muscles responsible for fecal or bowel incontinence. A flexible wire is implanted under the skin of the upper buttock and attached to an external stimulator. Mild electrical pulses stimulate the nerve and help it communicate correctly with the muscles that control bowel function. This allows you to resume many of your daily activities with tolerable symptoms.

Hemorrhoidal Surgery

Hemorrhoidal pain is a common colorectal condition that may be improved surgically. Many of our patients benefit from procedures designed to reduce hemorrhoidal inflammation. One surgical option is transanal hemorrhoidal dearterialization (THD), which allows for removal of the pain source with limited involvement of anal skin. Prompt healing is possible without future pain.

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Tests

Expert Imaging and Assessments

We use high-definition ultrasound techniques to diagnose colon and rectal diseases. The latest 3-D tools capture images of tumors, lesions, and inflamed tissue. Endoscopic imaging is assisted by elastography, which reveals the texture and hardness of tissue. The tissue's texture may help identify a cancerous lesion. These screening tools help us assess your condition and plan the most effective treatments.

Colonoscopy

By examining the colon, or large intestine, with a long, flexible lighted tube called a colonoscope, we can identify and remove precancerous polyps. We can also take biopsies to help diagnose conditions of the colon and rectum.

Endoscopic Ultrasound

A thin flexible tube containing an ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum. The probe uses sound waves to obtain images and information about the colon and rectum. This allows us to confirm a diagnosis or determine a disease stage.

Incontinence

We often encounter fecal or urinary incontinence when treating our patients suffering from colon and rectal disease. We engage our medical experts from gynecology or related fields to create a specific treatment to help you heal quickly.

Among the Best Hospitals for GI in the U.S.
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is ranked among the best in the nation for gastroenterology and GI surgery by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

Comprehensive Care for Colon and Rectal Disease

Clinical Trials to Improve Outcomes
We review the latest research and participate in clinical trials to ensure you benefit from the safest and most effective procedures. Many colorectal surgeries must take place within small areas of the body, so our continuing research helps us minimize procedures and improve your recovery.

Team Approach
Because colorectal conditions often involve related physiological factors, we work with Duke specialists from gynecology and urology to create your complete treatment and recovery plan.

Latest Imaging Technology
If you suffer from a colon or anal condition, our tests will ensure accurate, thorough assessments. Our new 3-D ultrasound technology provides a high-definition view so we can recommend the most effective treatment options.

Enhanced Recovery Reduces Hospital Stays and Readmissions
Our physicians are national leaders in enhanced recovery, a program that minimizes pre-operative fasting, encourages immediate post-operative physical rehabilitation, and incorporates specialized pain management to reduce the stress of colon surgery. Duke research shows that this enhanced recovery approach decreases post-operative complication rates and reduces the length of hospital stays.