If you have colorectal cancer or your rectum is no longer functioning due to other conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you may benefit from sphincter-sparing colorectal surgery. We perform sphincter-sparing colorectal surgery using traditional open surgery or minimally invasive techniques. These techniques allow us to remove diseased tissue in the rectum while protecting the rings of muscles that help control bowel movements (sphincters).

UC Davis is one of the few programs in Northern California offering this advanced procedure.

Sphincter-Sparing Colorectal Surgery: Expert Care at UC Davis

Your sphincter is a ring of muscles at the end of your anus. The sphincter forms a tight seal that keeps stool in your rectum until you are ready to have a bowel movement.

During sphincter-sparing colorectal surgery, we preserve your sphincter while removing your colon or rectum (proctectomy). Proctectomy can be a challenging procedure even for experienced surgeons because of the rectum's position within bony structures of the pelvis.

At UC Davis, you will find:

  • Surgical expertise: Our team includes nationally recognized experts in minimally invasive colorectal surgery. Minimally invasive techniques use cameras and sophisticated surgical tools to safely carry out complex procedures in difficult to reach areas. Meet our team.
  • Research: Our active leadership and participation in colorectal surgery research mean you receive only the best available care. Our division chief, Linda M. Farkas, M.D., is one of few researchers who participated in national and international studies comparing different minimally invasive proctectomy approaches. Read more about our research.
  • Seamless care: Your procedure is informed by some of the best and brightest experts, thanks to our partnerships with other UC Davis programs. These partnerships include the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center for colorectal cancer and the Division of Gastroenterology for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Support: Whether you need help deciding if sphincter-sparing colorectal surgery is right for you or you are experiencing challenges during your recovery, we are here to help.  Our team offers patient information and support so you know what to expect and can focus on getting better. Learn more about preparing for surgery.  

Types of Sphincter-Sparing Colorectal Surgery We Perform

We use advanced diagnosis to recommend the sphincter-sparing colorectal surgical procedure that will best meet your needs.

Sphincter-sparing colorectal surgery procedures we perform include:

  • Colon to anus (coloanal) anastomosis: The rectum normally connects the colon and anus and stores stool until you are ready to eliminate it through a bowel movement. If we need to remove the rectum, this procedure connects the bottom of the colon to the top end of the rectum. We also create a pouch using colon tissue to store stool until you are ready to eliminate it.
  • Small bowel pouch to anus (ileoanal or J-pouch) anastomosis: The colon connects your small intestine to your anus and helps your body prepare to eliminate stool. If we need to remove the colon and rectum, we use ileoanal anastomosis to connect the small intestine (ileum) to the anus.
  • Transanal minimally invasive surgery (TAMIS): TAMIS is a technique that helps us remove difficult pre-cancerous growths (polyps) and tumors in the rectum and lower part of the colon. TAMIS uses laparoscopic tools we insert through the anus to view the surgical area and remove (excise) the polyp or tumor.
  • Transanal total mesorectal excision (TaTME): TaTME is similar to TAMIS in that we access the surgical area through the anus. Using minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopic and robotic surgery, we approach polyps or tumors from two angles instead of one. This approach allows us to quickly and completely remove polyps and tumors in difficult to reach areas.

Our team works with you to understand the risks and benefits of the procedure as well as other treatments that may be helpful. Find out more about our treatments.

Sphincter-Sparing Colorectal Surgery: What to Expect

During sphincter-sparing colorectal surgery (anastomosis), we create a surgical connection between two body structures. If you have advanced colorectal conditions, such as colorectal cancer, removing the colon or rectum is sometimes the best treatment.

An anastomosis works by connecting the remaining segments of healthy intestine, allowing waste and stool to pass naturally out through the anus. An anastomosis can help you avoid the inconvenience of a permanent stoma. A stoma is a surgically created hole that allows waste to bypass your rectum and anus and empty into a special bag.

If sphincter-sparing colorectal surgery is right for you, here is what to expect:

  • You receive medication to help you fall asleep and not feel any sensation during the procedure (general anesthesia). Read more: anesthesiology health information.
  • Using minimally invasive techniques, such as robotic surgery and laparoscopic surgery, we remove the diseased rectum.