Reasons for a Resection Surgery

Resection is the medical term for surgically removing part or all of a tissue, structure, or organ. Resection may be performed for a wide variety of reasons. A resection may remove a tissue that is known to be cancerous or diseased, and the surgery may treat or cure a disease process. Depending on the tissue or organ, resection surgery may be an open surgery or may be done with a scope through a small incision or a natural entry point, such as the urethra or cervix.

Doctor adjusting light in operating room
Shannon Fagan / Getty Images


One very common type of resection is a small bowel resection, a procedure where one or more segment of the small intestine is removed. For people who are experiencing bowel problems in a specific area of the intestine (e.g. stricture, perforation, diverticulitis, etc), removing that area may make it possible for it to function normally after the healing process is complete. The surgery can be done through an open incision or through small incisions using a laparoscope.

Another common resection occurs when cancer is found in the large bowel, or colon. Treatment for cancer may include the surgical removal of the cancerous area and a margin of surrounding tissue, called a colectomy. This may be done as a treatment or may be a cure for the problem.

Resections can be performed on areas of the body other than the digestive tract as well. If there was a diseased area of the liver, a partial liver resection could be done to remove the bad tissue and leave the good and healthy tissue of the liver in place. A lung resection would remove an area of diseased lung tissue.

Other common types of surgeries that are resections:

  • Mastectomy: Removal of a breast for breast cancer.
  • Prostatectomy: Removal of the prostate gland in cases of prostate cancer. The TURP surgery is transurethral resection of the prostate.
  • Gastrectomy: Removal of the stomach, either full or partial, can be done for stomach cancer, ulcers, or bleeding.
  • Lung Resection: Removal of a lung in cases of lung cancer, tuberculosis, or other lung diseases. A pneumonectomy is the removal of an entire lung. A lobectomy is the removal of one lobe of a lung. There are also resections for a wedge, slice, or a segment of lung tissue as well.
  • Adrenalectomy: Removal of one or both adrenal glands, located on top of the kidney. It may be done for adrenal cancer or syndromes such as Cushing's syndrome where too much hormone is being produced.
  • Appendectomy: Removal of this pouch of the large intestine due to infection, bleeding, or inflammation.
  • Oophorectomy: Removal of one or both ovaries for cancer, ovarian cyst, chronic pelvic pain, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Thyroidectomy: Removal of all of the thyroid gland or one lobe of an overactive thyroid, goiter, nodules, or thyroid cancer.
  • Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus, sometimes including other structures. It is done for cancer, fibroids, chronic pelvic pain, and heavy bleeding.

Medical Coding of Excision vs. Resection

In the ICD-10-PCS medical coding system, an excision indicates a procedure where a portion of the body is cut out or cut off. A resection is when an entire body part is cut out or cut off. But this doesn't have to be an entire organ or tissue, as often they are coded as a portion of an organ. For example, the right and left lobes of the liver each have their own code. Therefore, removal of one lobe is a resection rather than an excision. In the case of medical coding, a wedge resection of the lung is an excision, not a resection.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Cancer Institute. Resection.

  2. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Small and large bowel resection.

  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Common surgical procedures.

  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).

  5. Zeisset AM. ICD-10-PCS root operation groupsJournal of AHIMA. 2010;81(3):58-60.

By Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN
Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine.