Colorectal Conditions

Every year, thousands of people in the U.S. need surgical treatment for colorectal conditions. At Swedish, we have surgeons skilled in new robotic colectomy that help patients recover faster.

Conditions of the colon and rectum that can be treated robotically include:

Rectal prolapse
Colorectal cancer


A diverticulum is a pouch that forms in the wall of the large intestine. The exact cause is unknown, but diverticulum may result from pressure building up when food moves too slowly through the bowel.

Digested food or stool can become trapped in one of the pouches, leading to inflammation and infection.
When this happens, the condition is called diverticulitis.

Symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • Abdominal cramping, pain or tenderness
  • Swollen and hard abdomen
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea, constipation or both
  • Rectal bleeding

Treatment may include medications that can help reduce pain and fight infections. Surgery to remove the sections of the bowel that contain pockets may be necessary if:

  • You have multiple attacks
  • A pouch breaks and the contents spread into the abdomen
  • Movement of stool through the intestine is blocked

Surgery for diverticulitis involves removing part of the diseased intestine and connecting the healthy sections back together. This procedure, called surgical resection, is one of the robotic colectomy procedures performed at Swedish.

Rectal Prolapse

The rectum is held in place by ligaments and muscles. When these become weak, rectal prolapse can occur. Prolapse is the sinking or sliding out of place.

Symptoms may include:

  • Tissue protruding from the anus
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Bleeding in the anus
  • Constipation or pain during bowel movements
  • Pain or itching

Treatment may include medications to help reduce pain and straining during bowel movements. In some cases, surgery may be needed. Surgeries used to treat rectal prolapse include:

  • Laparoscopic rectopexy: stitching the rectum in place by operating through small incisions in the abdomen
  • Perineal proctectomy: removing tissue protruding from the anus through an incision in the rectum

Colorectal Cancer

Cancer of the colon or rectum is also called colorectal cancer. More than 100,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancers of the colon and rectum every year.

If caught early, colorectal cancer is often curable. The "gold standard" screening for colorectal cancer is colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy involves inserting a flexible, camera-like instrument into the body to look at the inside of the colon and large intestine. This instrument can also remove any pre-cancerous polyps to prevent cancer from forming.

The Swedish Cancer Institute is a regional referral center, and cares for hundreds of colorectal patients each year. Our multidisciplinary cancer team works together to properly diagnose and treat people at all different stages of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is often treated with surgery first. At Swedish, options for colon surgery include robotic colectomy for faster recoveries.

The Cancer Institute also offers a wealth of information online for colorectal cancer patients, including information on:

  • About colorectal cancer
  • Swedish's colorectal cancer team
  • Treatment options
  • Integrated cancer care

It also provides information on patient support and resources.