Information on Types and Risks Involved With Colostomy

Submitted on March 27, 2012

When is Colostomy Recommended?

Colostomy is usually recommended after a surgery where part of the colon or rectum has been removed, and the remaining portions are unable to function normally.

This happens when a patient has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. If a patient has cancer of the colon or rectum, doctors perform a surgery called abdomino-perineal (AP) resection, where parts of the affected bowel are removed. After this surgery is over, colostomy needs to be performed.

Sometimes the rectum and colon may have some serious disease like ulcerative colitis, where part of the rectum and colon cannot function properly. This too would necessitate a surgery followed by colostomy.

Importance of Colostomy

Colostomy allows your body to dispose of its stool. It follows a surgery where a part of the diseased colon and rectum have already been removed. After the surgery, an opening is made in the skin of the abdomen. Now, the cut ends of the large intestine and the colon are also brought to the surface of the skin and stitched to the opening. A disposable plastic bag is attached to this opening outside the body. Stool collects in this bag and is emptied whenever required.

Colostomy is done under general anesthesia. The patient may be required to stay for a few days in the hospitable while healing takes place. The doctor will instruct the patient on how to use the colostomy bag, and how to identify signs of infection.

After you return home, it may take 2 to 3 months for the bowel tissues to heal.

Types of Colostomy

Colostomy can be of two types - temporary or permanent.

  • Temporary colostomy is done after a partial removal of the rectum and colon. After the abdominal tissues of the two cut ends have healed, the opening in the abdomen is stitched up again, and the disposable bag removed. The patient is now able to pass stool in the normal way again.
  • Permanent colostomy is required when the entire colon and lower rectum is removed and the body's ability to throw out stool normally is permanently damaged.

Risks Involved

This surgery has a few risks attached to it, if you do not take proper care. The site of the surgery and the attachment of the disposable bag may get infected and inflamed. This can cause other complications, so you need to take utmost care.

  • At the first sign of any inflammation, pain or pus discharge inform your doctor immediately.
  • Always keep the site dry and clean.
  • Empty the stool bag frequently since the stool too can lead to an infection.
  • Refrain from strenuous activity until the site of the surgery is completely healed. You may feel tired and weak. This process could take almost 3 months.