Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Treatment and Surgical Options

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are often chronic (long-term) illnesses. As a result, your doctor may recommend a long-term treatment using medication. There are two main goals of medication for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): to bring the disease under control (into remission), and keep the disease in remission.

Fortunately, there are medications to treat mild to moderate IBD. You should discuss the medications, as well as all other treatments with your doctor. If medication or lifestyle changes do not ease your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery for IBD or its complications.


Your doctor may recommend colon surgery (called a colectomy or colon resection), if medication does not ease your symptoms or if there are complications, such as an intestinal blockage. During surgery, doctors remove the affected part of the colon and then join together the remaining healthy portions of the colon (the reconnection is called an anastomosis).

A colectomy can be performed using traditional open surgery through a large incision or using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery – through a few small incisions.

Open Surgery

With open surgery, also called laparotomy, your surgeon must make a large abdominal cut/incision to reach your colon and other organs. The incision must be large enough for your surgeon to fit his or her hands and surgical instruments inside your body. While open surgery allows your surgeon to see and touch your organs, it is invasive and can be traumatic on your body due to the large incision.

Traditional Laparoscopic Surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive – meaning surgeons operate through a few small incisions instead of a large open incision. During traditional laparoscopy, long-handled instruments are inserted through the incisions. One of the instruments is a laparoscope – a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera at the end. The camera takes images inside your body and those images are sent to a video monitor to guide surgeons as they operate on your colon.

da Vinci® Surgery

Another minimally invasive surgical option is da Vinci Surgery. With the da Vinci System, surgeons make just a few small incisions instead of a large open incision - similar to traditional laparoscopy. The da Vinci System features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and special wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist. As a result, da Vinci enables your doctor to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.

da Vinci is a minimally invasive approach that uses the latest in surgical and robotics technologies and is beneficial for performing complex surgery. Your surgeon is 100% in control of the da Vinci System, which translates his or her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside your body.

PN 1002201 Rev A 04/2013

Important Safety Information

Serious complications may occur in any surgery, including da Vinci® Surgery, up to and including death. Individual surgical results may vary. Patients should talk to their doctor to decide if da Vinci Surgery is right for them. Patients and doctors should review all available information on non-surgical and surgical options in order to make an informed decision. Please also refer to for Important Safety Information.

When Is Single-Site Technology Used and What Are the Risks?

da Vinci Surgery with Single-Site® Instruments is cleared for use in gallbladder removal, and for hysterectomy and ovary removal for benign conditions. Patients who are not candidates for non-robotic minimally invasive surgery are also not candidates for da Vinci Surgery, including da Vinci Surgery with Single-Site Instruments. There may be an increased risk of incision-site hernia with single-incision surgery, including Single-Site surgery with the da Vinci System.

Website Disclaimer for and

This website does not provide medical advice. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

The materials on this website are for general educational information only. Information you read on this website cannot replace the relationship that you have with your healthcare professional. Intuitive Surgical does not practice medicine or provide medical services or advice and the information on this website should not be considered medical advice. You should always talk to your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. Health information changes quickly. Therefore, it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider.

If you have questions about the da Vinci® Surgical System or about surgical procedures conducted with the da Vinci Surgical System, consult a surgeon that has experience with the da Vinci Surgical System. A list of surgeons that have experience with the da Vinci Surgical System can be found in the Surgeon Locator.

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