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Surgery for Megacolon



Please Note:

The purpose of this website is purely for the education of those who may have concerns about Megacolon. The stories and information contained on this site is in no way a substitute for the advice and knowledge of a vet. Be sure to contact your vet for the best possible diagnosis and possible treatment.

What's the Surgery available for megacolon like?

Usually medical management is tried initially when megacolon is first diagnosed. In some cats, this alone is enough treatment to keep them unblocked and feeling good. Some cats may respond well to medication for long periods of time, but then will ultimately start to become blocked again over time. And some cats will simply fail to respond to medication from the get go. Ultimately, statistics say that a cat diagnosed with megacolon will become blocked again at some point in time, even while under medical and dietary management. In those that experience repeated blockages, and in those who show no response to medications or diet change, there is a surgical procedure available that is curative in most cases.

There are two forms of this procedure, Total and Subtotal Colectomy.

A subtotal colectomy involves removing most of the colon, but leaving a small portion, the ileocolic valve, in the body. This is a newer method of the procedure, and is done for a couple of reasons. One reason for leaving some of the colon intact is to cut down on the moistness of stool. Diarrhea is usually an after effect of having the colon removed since it's no longer there to absorb excess water from the stool, so leaving a portion of the colon intact allows for some water reabsorption, thus more solid stool. Another reason for this procedure is that when the portion of colon is removed, it's easier to attach the remaining two ends together, since they are the same in diameter. This cuts down on post surgery complications, such as leaking from the suture area, and post surgery scarring that can result in a narrowing of the bowel, called a "stricture".

There is a negative to this particular procedure in that sometimes the colon left in the body can be diseased and end up enlarging, causing reimpaction and requiring a second surgery to remove the remaining portion of colon.

In a total colectomy, the entire colon is removed, and the remaining intestine is reattached to the rectum. Reblockage isn't nearly as much a risk factor in this procedure, but it is a more difficult procedure in that the two ends being reconnected aren't the same size, and more skill is needed to connect to two mismatched ends. And as mentioned before, sometimes the area where the intestine was reconnected can scar over time and thicken, making the surgery area more narrow, which would require a second surgery to remove the stricture.

Despite how scary the possible above complications sound, the risk for either type of surgery is much lower than you'd think. The main risk post surgery is leakage from the area where the intestines were reconnected, and if this is going to happen, it usually happens on the third post operative day. Most cats who have either procedure done recover well, and their owners are overjoyed with the results.

If considering this surgery for your megacolon kitty, thoroughly discuss the procedure with your vet. Make sure you discuss the pros and cons of either type of procedure, and which one would be the best choice for your cat. A cat with poor nerve supply in the hind area may not respond well if non-functioning colon is left intact, and total colectomy may be the better choice of the two. At the same time, other cats will do wonderfully with a portion of colon left intact. You and your vet can decide which is the best choice for you.

Discussing post operative care beforehand with your vet is also a must; discuss which diet is best to give post surgery, which signs to look for that might implicate complications, and ask every single question you have on the subject. The more you know, the better prepared you'll be, and the better you and your kitty will get through the recovery period.


So, as you can see, no matter how severe the condition is; there is hope. As long as you can keep your kitty unblocked, whether it be through medicine, diet, enemas, or surgery, you can keep your cat alive and feeling good. The trick is finding the right combination for you and your kitty that keeps you both happy. I believe that every megacolon kitty out there can live a long and happy life as long as you're willing to learn as much as you can about this condition, and about how it affects your cat.

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