Colostomy Surgery

A colostomy surgery is a procedure that redirects a section of the large intestine (colon) to an opening in the abdomen. This opening is called a stoma or ostomy. A bag is attached to the stoma on the outside of the body. This bag collects waste, since the waste can no longer travel through the rest of the colon. Where the stoma is located and what it looks like depends on the type of colostomy performed. A colostomy may be temporary or permanent. The hospital stay after this procedure is typically 3 to 7 days.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, health supplements, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding problems or blood clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

General surgical complications may include:

  • Reaction to anesthesia.

  • Damage to surrounding nerves, tissues, or structures.

  • Infection.

  • Blood clot.

  • Bleeding.

  • Scarring.

  • Pain that lasts longer than 3 months.

Specific risks for colostomy, while rare, may include:

  • Intestinal blockage.

  • Skin irritation.

  • Wound opening.

  • Narrowing or collapsing of the stoma.

  • Hernia.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

It is important to follow your surgeon's instructions prior to your procedure to avoid complications. Steps before your procedure may include:

  • A physical exam, blood and urine tests, stool test, X-rays, and other procedures.

  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

  • A review of the procedure, the anesthesia being used, and what to expect after the procedure. You may meet with an ostomy advisor.

You may be asked to:

  • Stop taking certain medicines for several days prior to your procedure such as blood thinners (including aspirin).

  • Take certain medicines, such as antibiotics or stool softeners.

  • Follow a special diet for several days prior to the procedure and to avoid eating and drinking after midnight the night before the procedure. This will help you to avoid complications from the anesthesia.

  • Take an antibacterial shower the night before, or the morning of, the procedure.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking increases the chances of an infection or a healing problem after your procedure.

Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery. You should also arrange to have someone help you with activities while you recover.

PROCEDURE

There are several types of colostomy procedures. The 2 main procedure types are loop colostomy or end colostomy. During a loop colostomy, the surgeon pulls 2 ends of the intestine out toward the abdomen, using 2 openings. During an end colostomy, the surgeon pulls 1 end of the intestine out toward the abdomen, through 1 opening. You will be given medicine that makes you sleep (general anesthetic). The procedure may be done as open surgery, with a large cut (incision), or as laparoscopic surgery, with several small incisions.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You will be given pain medicine.

  • You may be able to suck on ice. You may begin drinking clear fluids the next day and begin a normal diet after 2 days, or as directed by your surgeon.

  • Your stoma will be covered with bandages or a pouch.

  • Initial drainage from the stoma will be liquid.

  • The stoma may be dark-colored, swollen, and bruised until it has more time to heal.