Minimally Invasive Colon & Gastrointestinal Surgery

Nebraska Medicine is pioneering new and innovative minimally invasive surgical procedures for colon and gastrointestinal conditions. These advances in technology make surgery less demanding and more comfortable to the patient. Using specialized techniques such as miniature cameras with microscopes, tiny fiber optic lights and high definition monitors, surgeons can correct many problems without requiring you to undergo major surgery or large incisions. Minimally invasive surgery is performed both on an inpatient (stay in the hospital) and outpatient (go home the same day) basis.

We offer a number of minimally invasive procedures for patients with colon or lower gastrointestinal conditions, including:

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

This procedure allows the surgeon to examine the lining of the rectum and lower colon (large bowel). You will lie on one side while the sigmoidoscope is advanced through the rectum and lower colon. A lubricated soft, bendable tube about the thickness of the index finger is gently inserted into the anus and advanced further into the rectum and the lower part of the colon. You will be awake during the procedure. Occasionally, the surgeon may administer a light sedation. The procedure is usually well tolerated and rarely causes discomfort. Inside the colon there are few nerve endings; therefore, it is unusual to feel the scope moving within the body. Air is injected to distend or widen the passage. This may cause a feeling of pressure, gassiness, bloating, or cramping during the procedure. The procedure usually lasts for 5 to 15 minutes.

Lower Gastrointestinal (GI) Series

This procedure uses x-rays to diagnose problems in the large intestine, which includes the colon and the rectum. Abnormal growths, ulcers, polyps, diverticuli and colon cancer can be detected with this procedure. Before x-rays are taken, a thick liquid called barium is injected into the colon, commonly also called a barium enema. The barium coats the lining of the colon and rectum, giving a clearer picture of any signs of disease as well as the size and shape of the organs. Position changes are important while multiple x-rays are taken, as the different positions allow for different views of the colon to be seen. You may experience a feeling of fullness and pressure in your abdomen, giving you the urge to have a bowel movement. The lower GI series takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete.


Colonoscopy is a potentially life-saving procedure that enables a surgeon to examine the lining of the rectum and entire colon (large bowel) to screen for colorectal cancers and other conditions. During this procedure, the surgeon may feel that it is necessary to take a biopsy for analysis. Any polyps found are usually removed or a biopsy is performed.

Conditions we treat:


Diverticulosis is an abnormal condition that affects the colon. It consists of small out-pouchings forming in the weak areas in the walls of the colon. These small pouches are called diverticuli. Diverticulitis develops if these small pouches become inflamed or infected by bacteria that normally live in the colon. Many people with diverticulosis experience no symptoms. Mild cases of diverticulitis may resolve with bowel rest and oral antibiotics. However if diverticulitis is severe, the pouches can rupture leading to further complications like abscess formation, peritonitis, fistula (abnormal communication tract) formation with urinary bladder. The abscess may sometimes be drained by inserting tubes under guidance of CAT scan. If the infection in the abdomen is very severe, emergency surgery to drain the abscess with or without removal of part of colon may be required. If a patient has multiple attacks of diverticulitis, the surgeon might recommend removal of part of the colon.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is a tumor that arises in the colon. There are certain types of polyps that can eventually develop into colon cancer over time. A biopsy of the polyps may be performed and sometimes removed during colonoscopy. However, once colon cancer develops, surgery is usually required to remove a portion of the colon. Learn more about colon cancer treatments at Nebraska Medicine.

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