When certain conditions are present in the large intestine, it could be necessary to remove a portion of the colon and create an ostomy. Ostomy surgery is not uncommon. Over 1,000,000 Americans have an ostomy, and over 130,000 new life-saving ostomy surgeries occur in America yearly.
There are several types of ostomies:
Colostomy- Surgically created opening in the large intestine (colon)
Ileostomy- Surgically created opening in the small intestine (ileum)
Urostomy (Ileoconduit)- Surgically created opening to drain urine from the kidneys
A colostomy is a surgical procedure to help many people living with serious digestive issues and chronic diseases live a healthier life.
Conditions in the colon that may require colostomy surgery are:
Injury to the colon
Infants may need a colostomy for birth defects
What is a Colostomy?
A colostomy is a surgically created opening in the abdomen. A small part of the colon is brought to the surface of the abdominal skin to form the opening for the stool to drain. This opening is called a stoma. The visible part of the stoma is the inner lining of the colon and is red, moist tissue (like the inside of the mouth). The stool (bowel movement) passes through the stoma and empties into a pouch that is applied to the abdomen. The intestines will continue to work like before, except stool will pass through the stoma and into the pouch instead passing out of the anus. Depending on the location of the stoma, the stool may have a soft or firm consistency. Unlike the anus, the stoma has no control or shut-off muscle. For this reason, willful control of the passage of stool is not possible.
Ideally, the person undergoing surgery will be able to meet with a certified ostomy nurse before their surgery. During this time, they will learn about the ostomy, see the appliances used to manage the stool, and have his or her abdomen assessed and a spot picked for the stoma, prior to surgery. The final location of the stoma is determined by the surgeon.
The way the stoma will appear depends on the type of colostomy and the each individual's body. The size of the stoma will appear large at first due to inflammation but will eventually shrink to its final size in approximately six to eight weeks.
Depending on why the procedure performed, colostomies can be temporary or permanent.
Understanding the Difference
Sometimes used interchangeably, we wanted to highlight the difference between an ostomy and a stoma.
What is an Ostomy?
The surgically created opening in the body in which waste from the body passes.
What is a Stoma?
The end of the bowels that are seen protruding through the opening in the abdomen.
Ostomy Care After a Colostomy
During your hospital stay, which can last anywhere from several days to a week, you will meet with a UnityPoint at Home ostomy nurse to learn to care for your colostomy. Your nurse will work with you to determine the type of pouch you will need to manage the stool and will start teaching you how to take care of your stoma. Because the stoma does not have any nerve endings, the stool may pass without any feeling. It’s important to empty and replace your ostomy pouch regularly.Here are several questions you may have about caring for your colostomy after surgery.
What Can I Eat?
You may want to choose softer foods for the first 6-8 weeks after surgery. There is no special diet for the colostomy. If you need to be on a special diet for other reasons, such as heart or blood sugar, you should follow that recommended diet.
Can I Be Active With a Colostomy?
Yes, the goal is to help you learn to care for yourself so you can enjoy a full range of activities including travel, sports, family life, and work.
How Often Do I Empty My Colostomy Pouch?
The colostomy pouch should be emptied when it is one-third to half full. The frequency of emptying varies from person to person. Some people may need to empty several times a day and some may empty every other day.
How Often Do I Need to Change My Colostomy Pouch?
Colostomy pouches can be drainable or closed-end. The drainable pouch is typically changed once to twice a week. The closed-end pouch is changed when it is half full. Reusable colostomy bags are also available and would need to be cared for every day.
What is Colostomy Irrigation?
Colostomy irrigation is a method to cleanse the colon. The procedure is done every day or every other day to regulate the bowel movement. The surgeon and ostomy nurse will help you decide if this procedure is an option for you.
Ostomy Care with UnityPoint at Home
Caring for your colostomy after surgery can be challenging at times. Home care nurses and certified ostomy care nurses at UnityPoint at Home will help educate you on the proper care of your colostomy, answer your questions, provide emotional support and help solve problems if you have them.