November 23, 2017

What is a Colostomy?

By Jeana Scroggins

A colostomy is a procedure that makes an opening within your abdominal wall in order to bring a part of your intestine out. The resulting stoma is then attached to an ostomy bag and from there, collects the stool. This occurs during the removal of a part of the colon that isn’t working properly. The first part of this is called the cecum, which is where the small intestine is. From there, there is the ascending colon, which is in the right part of the abdomen, and of course, the transverse colon, which is right above the abdomen, and then the descending part, which is the left side, and finally, the sigmoid colon, where it connects to the rectum. A colostomy is one of the most common life-saving procedures to help decompress and obstructed colon or diverse the stool somewhere.

The purpose of a colostomy is to help with improving the bowel discharge.  The colon has two main parts to it, which is to absorb the water from the stool and to store the stool that you have until there is a bowel movement. The colon helps with digestion to solidify the unused food, and from there, turn it into the stool. It then receives everything that the small intestine isn’t able to absorb. The colon is responsible for absorbing the water, the nutrients, the electrolytes, and some vitamins, and from there, evacuate the indigestible matter that’s there in the form of feces. A colostomy creates a hole in order to expel the stool without reaching the anus and rectum.

A colostomy may be done as an emergency tactic, but also for elective surgical conditions for the management of wide ranges of both congenital, and benign and malignant conditions that happen. The diversion and decompression of the colon are the two main reasons.

Diversion is to help protect the contamination from the distal large bowel segment and it’s attending problems. Diversion is done for trauma and of course, rectal surgeries that are elective.  Decompression is done to relieve the obstructed large bowel, such as the malignant left side tumors, or even sigmoid volvulus.  The benign conditions will predominate this, such as the traumas and knotting. Some colorectal cancers also play a part in this as well.

Usually, these types of colostomies vary depending on the location of these. The ascending one, for example, is done on the right side of your abdomen, where the discharge is very liquid, and of course, this one is rarely used since an ileostomy is better if the discharge is a liquid one.  This is usually done in a similar way to a transverse colostomy.

The transverse one usually happens due to irritable bowel disease, cancer, birth defects, and obstruction. This is usually in the case if health problems will make it worse for further surgery.

Finally, there is the descending one.  The discharge of this is firm and regulated. The most common of these, the sigmoid colostomy, is done a lot. The stool of this is much firmer, and it doesn’t have the caustic enzyme content, and at this location, the elimination might be more regular and predictable, and the bowel movement does take place after some stool is collected there.

While many ones cause them to move regularly, sometimes in some cases the bowel movements may not.

If you’ve ever been curious about a colostomy, and whether you need one, hopefully this answers your questions, and tells you what you need to know about this type of procedure.