is a surgical procedure that involves connecting a part of the colon
onto the anterior abdominal wall
, leaving the patient with an opening on the abdomen
called a stoma
. In a colostomy, the stoma is formed from the end of the large intestine
, which is drawn out through the incision
to the skin. After a colostomy, feces
leave the patient's body through the abdomen. A colostomy may be permanent or temporary, depending on the reasons for its use.
There are many reasons for this procedure. Some common reasons are:
- A section of the colon has been removed, e.g. due to colon cancer requiring a total mesorectal excision, diverticulitis, injury, etc, so that it is no longer possible for feces to pass out via the anus.
- A portion of the colon (or ileum) has been operated upon and needs to be 'rested' until it is healed. In this case, the colostomy is often temporary and is usually reversed at a later date, leaving the patient with a small scar in place of the stoma. Children undergoing surgery for extensive pelvic tumors commonly are given a colostomy in preparation for surgery to remove the tumor, followed by reversal of the colostomy.
Placement of the stoma on the abdomen
can occur at any location along the colon, the majority being on the lower left side near or in the sigmoid colon
, other locations include; the ascending
, and descending
sections of the colon.
Colostomy surgery that can be planned ahead often has a higher rate of long-term success than those done in emergency surgery.
Colostomy with irrigation
People with colostomies who have ostomies of the sigmoid colon
or descending colon
may have the option of irrigation, which allows for the person to not wear a pouch, but rather just a gauze cap over the stoma, and to schedule irrigation for times that are convenient. To irrigate, a catheter
is placed inside the stoma, and flushed with water, which allows the feces to come out of the body into an irrigation sleeve. Most colostomates irrigate once a day or every other day, though this depends on the person, their food intake, and their health.
Colostomy without irrigation
Colostomies are viewed negatively due to the misconception that it is difficult to hide the pouch and the smell of feces, or to keep the pouch securely attached. However, modern colostomy pouches are well-designed, odor-proof, and allow stoma patients to continue normal activities. Latex
-free tape is available for ensuring a secure attachment.
People with colostomies must wear an ostomy pouching system
to collect intestinal waste. Ordinarily the pouch must be emptied or changed several times a day depending on the frequency of activity; in general the further from the anus
the ostomy is located the greater the output and more frequent the need to empty or change the pouch.
In some rare situations it may be possible to opt for an internal colo-anal pouch which eliminates the need for an external pouch. In place of an external appliance
, an internal ileo-anal pouch
is constructed using a portion of the patient's lower intestine, to act as a new rectum
to replace the removed original.