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Am J Gastroenterol. 2006 Dec;101(12 Suppl):S618-24.

Impact of proctectomy on continence and sexual function in women.

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Gastroenterology, Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Whether treating a patient with colorectal cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease, or a variety of other gastrointestinal ailments, gastroenterologists sometimes need to enlist the help of colorectal surgeons to treat their patients. Surgical resection of the rectum is a frequently preformed procedure that has changed significantly over the last century. We have progressed from the early twentieth century, when removal of the rectum and anus with a permanent colostomy was a revolutionary and life-saving treatment for rectal cancer, to the present era of rectal resection and multiple, complex options for its reconstruction. Extensive knowledge of the pelvic anatomy is necessary in order for surgeons to preserve pelvic function while excising diseased tissue. Pelvic surgery poses unique challenges to patients, and proctectomy can drastically affect a woman's continence, sexual function, and fertility. It is imperative for gastroenterologists to understand how proctectomy can affect their patient's quality of life, independent of their disease state.

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