What is a Colostomy And When is it Performed?

A colostomy is a surgical procedure in which one end of the large intestine is diverted into a visible opening on the abdomen. After that, a small pouch is placed over the opening to collect waste products. This way, the waste that normally passes through the rectum and anus, is collected with a different arrangement. When the same procedure is performed with the small intestine, it’s known as an ileostomy.

A colostomy is performed to make an opening in the skin where a bag or pouch can collect feces. Those who have colostomies (either of long-term or temporary nature) will have to carry the pouches to dispose of the waste. The procedure is known as bowel diversion therapy as it performed in people facing issues with the lower bowel. The procedure is not always permanent in nature and depends on the severity of condition faced by the patient.

Post-surgery, the patient has to incorporate the colostomy bag as an extension of his or her body as it helps divert the waste and also lets the irritated areas of the colon heal. The decision to have a colostomy is never easy but yes, it can raise the quality of life in patient.

What are the indications for a colostomy to be performed?

Colostomies are mostly performed in those facing health problems related to the lower bowel. In such cases, colostomy becomes a necessary procedure to divert stool away from the bowel or keep the stool out of the colon. Colostomies are usually done on a temporary basis, except in cases where the colon is diseased and has to be removed completely.

A colostomy becomes important in cases where –

  • There is either an injury or blockage to the intestine
  • In cases where the patient is diagnosed with colorectal cancer
  • In those suffering from Crohn’s disease – an autoimmune form of inflammatory bowel disease
  • When someone has an imperforate anus or is facing similar problems due to birth defects
  • When extra tissue grows inside the colon – colonic polyps – and may become cancerous
  • When patients have long-term inflammation of the digestive tract – ulcerative colitis
  • And in those living with irritable bowel syndrome that affects the colon

What are the risks associated with a colostomy?

It’s easy to find and purchase a colostomy kit online. The awareness regarding this surgery is rapidly growing across world.

Since it is a major surgery, there will be some risks that are present. The doctor should inform the patient in detail of both the advantages and the risks associated with the procedure.

The following are some risks associated with colostomy –

  • Allergic reactions to anesthesia may occur
  • Excessive bleeding or internal bleeding may occur
  • Infection or damage in other organs may arise
  • Some problems may arise from the scar tissue
  • The wound may break up in later stages causing further complications
  • In some cases, there may be a prolapse of the colostomy