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Colostomy

Home Colostomy

Colostomy

A colostomy is an operation that creates an opening for the colon, or large intestine, through the abdomen. A colostomy may be temporary or permanent. It is usually done after bowel surgery or injury. Most permanent colostomies are "end colostomies," while many temporary colostomies bring the side of the colon up to an opening in the abdomen.

During an end colostomy, the end of the colon is brought through the abdominal wall, where it may be turned under, like a cuff. The edges of the colon are then stitched to the skin of the abdominal wall to form an opening called a stoma. Stool drains from the stoma into a bag or pouch attached to the abdomen. In a temporary "loop colostomy," a hole is cut in the side of the colon and stitched to a corresponding hole in the abdominal wall. This can be more easily reversed later by simply detaching the colon from the abdominal wall and closing the holes to reestablish the flow of stool through the colon.

Reasons for the procedure

Colostomy surgery may be needed to treat several different diseases and conditions. These include:

-Birth defect, such as a blocked or missing anal opening, called an imperforate anus

-Serious infection, such as diverticulitis, inflammation of little sacs on the colon

-Inflammatory bowel disease

-Injury to the colon or rectum

-Partial or complete intestinal or bowel blockage

-Rectal or colon cancer

-Wounds or fistulas in the perineum. A fistula is an abnormal connection between internal parts of the body, or between an internal organ and the skin. A woman's perineum is the area between her anus and vulva; a man's lies between his anus and scrotum.

The reason for the colostomy helps the healthcare provider decide whether it will be short-term or permanent. For example, some infections or injuries require giving the bowel a temporary rest, then reattaching it. A permanent colostomy may be required for a more serious or incurable problem, such as cancer that requires removal of the rectum, or a failure of the muscles that control elimination.

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