A colostomy is a surgically created opening in the large intestine. The opening or stoma sticks out on the belly. It is formed by bringing a part of the large intestine out through a cut in the abdomen. This opening provides a patient with an alternative channel to pass out feces. A colostomy becomes an ideal solution when the anus is not available for the job due to a disease or injury.
You may need to undergo colostomy surgery for many reasons. Some common reasons are the following.
- The surgeon has removed a part of the colon due to cancer, diverticulitis, or other underlying condition.
- A part of the colon has undergone surgery, and now it needs to rest until it heals. In such a scenario, the colostomy created is often temporary. The surgeon will call you for another surgery to reverse the stoma. After that reversal procedure, you will be able to move your bowels naturally.
Types of colostomies
There are two types of colostomies.
- Loop colostomy: This colostomy is used to treat emergency problems with the large bowel, and it is always temporary. The surgeon pulls a loop of the large intestine out through a cut in the belly and holds it in place by placing a rod underneath. A cut on the top of that loop creates two openings. One of those openings evacuates stools, while the second one remains silent. The surgeon sutures the second opening, which leads to the anus.
- End colostomy: This colostomy brings an end of the large intestine out through the abdominal wall.
A colostomy may be temporary. Your surgeon will reverse it after a few weeks or months. A permanent colostomy, however, remains on your abdomen for life.
With surgeons mostly preferring primary resection and internal anastomosis, ileostomies and colostomies are rarely performed to treat bowel cancer. This procedure aims at creating an internal reservoir that stores stools. This reservoir sits on the anal canal, meaning that the patient will be able to pass out stools through the anus.
The placement of the stoma will depend on the part of the colon requiring diversion. In most cases, a stoma is placed on the lower left side near the sigmoid colon. It is the area where most cancers occur. Other locations are transverse, ascending, and descending sections of the colon.
You will have to wear an ostomy bag over your stoma to manage stool evacuations. This ostomy bag adheres to the skin around the stoma, forming a leak-proof seal that keeps stools from coming in contact with the peristomal skin. To combat the issue of odors, people mostly use odor neutralizers or deodorants. Most colostomy pouches come with an integrated filter that allows gas to escape but not the odor.
If you do not want to use an ostomy pouch, you can consider irrigating your colostomy. This procedure refers to the instilling of water into the stoma through an enema. The water stimulates the colon, prompting an urge to move your bowels. This procedure allows you to use a stoma cap instead of a bulky ostomy pouch for the best ostomy Care. You will have to consult with your doctor beforehand, though.