Colostomy

The reason for the majority of colostomies is because that patient has been experiencing problems with their lower bowels. Usually, there have been many blood tests, screenings, and appointments before a decision is made to go forward with a colostomy. Sometimes a temporary colostomy will correct a bowel issue because the procedure is diverting stool away from the inflamed or infected bowel. Occasionally, though, the colon can be permanently infected or diseased and then removed. A colostomy would be permanent in that case.

Prior to the procedure, your doctor will perform another series of tests on you. This is to ensure you are relatively healthy and your body can withstand the procedure. Your doctor will ask about medications, previous surgeries, and family history. Be prepared to answer any of those questions. Once a date is set your doctor will ask you to fast for at least 12 hours before the procedure.

Occasionally, doctors will provide laxatives to take so you can empty out your bowels. This will help with a more successful surgery the next morning. You should be prepared to stay in the hospital for up to seven days. Your body will need ample time to heal so make sure daily tasks around your home are being covered by someone else.

Your ostomy will be located by your doctor by examining where the damaged or infected portion of your colon is located. This will make sure stool does not get into the infected part of your colon. Instead, stool will pass through your stoma on your abdomen into a bag secured to you. This is created by connecting the healthy portion of your colon to your stoma which then goes to your bag previously ordered from ostomy supplies. Your bag will then fill with stool and you (or your caretaker) will be responsible for disposing of the stool and making sure the bag and skin surrounding stay clean.

Your nurse or healthcare provider will then spend the next several days teaching you how to care for your ostomy. Before your procedure, your doctor will decide on which ostomy supplies to use. Your nurse will train you on all vital information. Before you leave, you will have to pass inspections that you know how to properly dispose of, clean, and then sterilize your bag and skin surrounding.

Created for the National Cancer Institute, http://www.cancer.gov

It is so important that your abdomen stays healthy and clean for the remainder of your time with a stoma. Infectious diseases spread much rapidly when there are open wounds. Your stoma is considered an open wound; therefore, it should be clean at all times.