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Colostomy is a surgical procedure in which one end of the large intestine or colon is diverted out through an opening on the surface of the abdomen. The route for faecal elimination is diverted this way, which is collected in a bag attached to the abdomen.

Why is colostomy done?

The colon, rectum and the anus are organs of the excretory system. If they malfunction due to disease or injury, then another arrangement needs to be done to remove excretory substance from the body. So colostomy is performed under the following circumstances:

  • Bowel cancer
  • Colorectal tumours, polyps
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Traumatic injury of the colon

How is colostomy performed?

Colostomy is performed under general anaesthesia. It could be a traditional surgery, wherein a cut is made in the abdomen to access the colon or it could be a minimal invasion technique i.e. laparoscopy.

The loop or the end portion of the colon is taken out through the incision made on the abdominal wall. The opening from which the colon is sutured out is called the stoma. That end of the colon, which is exposed outside is then stitched to the abdominal wall.

Since a new passage has been formed for elimination of waste products outside the body, the patient needs to wear a colostomy pouch (also known as ostomy bag) where faeces will be collected.

A catheter will be attached to drain urine and IV drip will be continued for several days.

How to prepare for colostomy?

Your doctor will thoroughly check your medical and surgical history and conduct several blood and physiological tests before performing colostomy.  

The surgery is performed in empty stomach, so you need to fast at least for 12 hours prior to the operation. You may be given laxatives to empty your bowel completely.

What to expect after colostomy?

You will be retained in the hospital for 3-10 days, depending upon your body’s response after surgery. You will be taken care of by nurses who will also train you to take care of the stoma to avoid infections and handle the bag (emptying and changing).

Minor bleeding can occur from the incision site, which is normal.

During the recovery period, your doctor will suggest liquid foods to avoid indigestion. Furthermore, you will need rest for a considerable period and restrict yourself from activities. Your diet will also be planned by your doctor.

It’s important to listen to your doctor’s instructions to lead a normal life after colostomy

Follow up appointments will be scheduled by your doctor.

Are there any complications of colostomy?

Hernia can develop under colostomy and leakage of stool can infect the skin around the abdomen. Furthermore, after colostomy narrowing of bowel can also happen. However, these complications can be avoided easily if you follow the post operative instructions properly.

Depending on the necessity of the surgery, colostomy can be permanent or temporary. Today, living with colostomy has become a lot easier with introduction of new supplies that can be handled easily. This further helps a person enjoy a normal life.  

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 30, 2015

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