Colorectal Surgery

The Division of Colorectal Surgery at Michigan Medicine provides skilled and comprehensive care for colorectal diseases, uniting the expertise of multiple disciplines to streamline the patient experience. Through our research, we’re developing new approaches to treating cancer, from understanding the biology of tumors to improving the way that health care teams deliver surgical interventions. Through our educational program, trainees learn from some of the best surgeons in the country — carrying that knowledge forward into their careers.

Colorectal Surgery at Michigan treats benign and malignant conditions of the small bowel, colon, rectum, and anus using open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgical techniques.

Our approach capitalizes on the wide array of multidisciplinary expertise present at Michigan Medicine, to deliver highly efficient, patient-centered, and expert care. For example, in our Multidisciplinary Colorectal Cancer Clinic, patients may see a colorectal surgeon, a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, or a medical geneticist, depending on their needs. We’re frequently able to coordinate multiple appointments in a single day, reducing the burden on patients and providing better care informed by multiple perspectives. We collaborate with gastroenterologists specializing in Inflammatory Bowel Disease to offer a full array of surgical approaches to the care of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, including ileoanal pouch procedures. We also work with a variety of specialists in the Michigan Bowel Control Program to evaluate and treat patients with constipation, fecal incontinence, rectal prolapse and other pelvic floor disorders.

With more than 3,000 clinic visits and more than 900 surgical procedures performed each year, we have the experience and the expertise to provide care many institutions can’t, receiving referrals from around the country, as well as internationally.

Our clinical specialties include:

  • Consultation and treatment for diseases of the small intestine, colon, rectum, and anus, including colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, bowel obstruction, chronic constipation, and others. We’re able to provide advanced surgical care for colon and rectal cancer, including complex resections where cancer has invaded the prostate, bladder, spine, or other organs.
  • Colonoscopy and endorectal ultrasound for diagnosis, screening, and monitoring of conditions.
  • Management of hereditary colorectal syndromes, including genetic testing and genetic counseling services.

Education

We train colorectal surgery fellows, general surgery residents, and medical students in the full range of surgical treatments for diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, including laparoscopic and robotic surgery.

Trainees learn from faculty who routinely perform highly complex procedures including multi-visceral cancer resections, complex inflammatory bowel disease surgery, and pelvic floor surgery.

We offer a Colon and Rectal Surgery Fellowship Program through our partnership with St. Joseph Mercy Health System. This fellowship program is designed for surgeons who’ve completed general surgery training and who seek specialization in colorectal surgery.

Research

Research efforts in the Division of Colorectal Surgery span clinical, translational, and health services domains, with an excellent record of grant support, totaling more than $4 million in direct costs over the past 5 years. Three of our division faculty have received NIH Career Development Awards, a marker of success for our growing division.

Our current research interests include:

  • Cancer care improvement, through a K07-funded program to study the technical aspects of rectal cancer surgery, including surgical pathology reporting and an assessment of the barriers to improving surgical care on health care teams.
  • Exploring the role of intra-tumor heterogeneity in the progression of cancer and the body’s response to pre-operative chemotherapy and radiation therapy in cases of colon and rectal cancer.
  • Novel use of technology to improve patient education and surgical training, including using videos of laparoscopic colon resections for surgical coaching, and the development of a video learning tool for patients with new surgical stomas.
  • Working with a 75-hospital consortium, the Michigan Value Collaborative, to evaluate the quality and efficiency of episodes around acute hospital care, with a special focus on perioperative care of older adults.