During a colostomy surgery, your colon is rerouted from its normal course, which typically leads down towards the anus. Instead, a new opening, called a stoma, is created in your abdominal wall. As a result, stool will exit your body through this stoma rather than the usual route through the anus. To collect the stool as it exits, you may need to wear a colostomy bag. While some patients only require a colostomy for a temporary period, others may need to rely on it permanently.
A colostomy is frequently performed after a colectomy, procedure that involves the removal of all or part of your colon. Certain situations might necessitate you to discontinue the use of your colon, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. After the surgery, the rerouted colon is also referred to as a “colostomy.” Your doctor will guide you on how to manage and adapt to life with a colostomy during post–operative discussions.
If you have a medical problem that prevents you from using your colon or anus regularly, you may need a colostomy. It can be a long–term solution for an irreversible illness, or it might be a short–term intervention that lets your body repair.
A temporary colostomy may be necessary for the following conditions:
A permanent colostomy may be necessary for the following conditions:
A colostomy is a common and simple surgical procedure. Although there are always some hazards, it’s generally safe. Among them are:
You may experience post–operative colostomy difficulties even if the operation goes well. Among them are:
As a major surgery, preparing for a colostomy involves several steps. Before the surgery, you will have a pre–operative assessment with your surgeon. During this consultation, your surgeon will ensure that you fully comprehend the procedure, the associated risks, and the lifestyle changes you can expect afterward. It’s also an opportunity to discuss pain management options and alternatives. To assess your overall health and suitability for surgery, a nurse will perform blood tests. Additionally, an EKG may be conducted to assess the condition of your heart. Only after these assessments are completed and you have a clear understanding of the procedure will you be asked to sign consent paperwork.
On the day of the colostomy procedure, you will be required to observe a six–hour fasting period before the operation. In some cases, you may be instructed to use stool prep or an enema at home. Upon your arrival at the hospital, you will change into a hospital gown. Following this, you will be taken to a pre–operative room where you will await the procedure. Once in the operating room, anesthesia will be administered to prepare you for the surgery.
Colostomies can be done either open surgery or laparoscopic surgery:
Your colon is divided into four distinct sections where incisions may have been made. The results of colostomies in each section will vary slightly.
Your small intestine feeds into the ascending colon, which is the initial part of the colon. The reason it goes up the right side of your abdomen is why it is called “ascending.” In the case of an ascending colostomy, only a small portion of your colon remains functional, limiting its ability to perform its usual functions in processing food waste. Food waste is still extremely liquid and not completely digested when it travels from the small intestine to the ascending colon. Numerous digestive enzymes are present in the ascending colon to aid in the further breakdown of waste. After an ascending colostomy, this liquid waste will go through your stoma. You’ll need to exercise extra caution to prevent leaks and shield your skin from the abrasive enzymes in the excrement.
The second part of the colon is called the transverse colon, and it crosses your abdomen horizontally from the right side to the left. Transverse colostomies are frequently performed to temporarily bypass the lower portion of the colon, and occasionally they are done to do so permanently. Your stool will be slightly more firm and contain less digestive enzymes if you have a transverse colostomy. Your colostomy may be positioned somewhat high on the abdomen because this is the high point of the colon, which can make it harder to hide.
The lowest segments of the colon are the descending and sigmoid colons. The descending segment descends the left side of your abdomen and the short sigmoid “tail” end curved slightly downward and to the right. The majority of your colon will still be functioning if you have a colostomy in one of these regions. This implies that the feces that emerge from your stoma will be more familiar. By the time it reaches this point, the waste will have had sufficient time to solidify, and any digestive enzymes will have been absorbed, reducing the likelihood of skin irritation. You may even be able to schedule your bowel movements and have a natural reflex to poop at a certain time of day.
During the next three to seven days, your recovery will take place in the hospital, during which you will:
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