When it comes to treating certain intestinal disorders like cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, a colostomy may be the best option.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious intestinal disorder, a colostomy can help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. The procedure not only eradicates a potentially life-threatening condition — such as inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, or diverticulitis (an inflammation of the small sacs along the colon) — but also helps restore normal bowel function.
Depending on your specific condition, a colostomy may be permanent or performed as a temporary fix to allow the intestines to heal from disease. With proper after-care, education, and support, people with colostomies live normal, active lives. Here’s what you need to know about the procedure and life after a colostomy.
During a colostomy, a surgeon removes the diseased or damaged section of the colon and moves the healthy portion of the intestine to the abdominal wall. In order for digested food to exit the intestine, an opening, or stoma, is made. An external pouch covers the stoma to collect fecal waste. Typically, an “end” colostomy, in which the entire colon or large intestine is cut out, is permanent. However, in some instances, it can be reversed.
In a temporary or “loop” colostomy, the surgeon makes an incision into the side of the colon, and then matches that window with an opening in the abdomen. This method makes it easier to reattach the colon when the healing process is complete.
The surgery requires a three-to-five-day hospital stay. As with any major surgery, there are some risks, such as bleeding, infection, or scar tissue forming in the intestines. Immediately after the operation, patients are allowed to consume only clear liquids. Within two days, patients may start on a regular diet.
After the surgery, patients are usually fitted with an external pouching system into which fecal matter drains. A specially trained ostomy nurse instructs you on how to irrigate and change the pouches at home.
In some cases, the pouch may be placed within the intestinal walls. With a Kock Pouch, waste flows into a reservoir created between the stoma and the small intestine and then is emptied several times a day with a catheter.
A J Pouch works similarly, except it’s placed in the anus. Patients with a J Pouch eliminate stools with a catheter, but have the option of waiting about an hour to release the waste matter after they feel the urge and before the reservoir leaks.
Another option is the Barnett Continent Intestinal Reservoir (BCIR). The primary advantage of a BCIR is that it is less prone to leaks. Like a Kock Pouch, a BCIR is located in the lower abdomen, but the stoma contains a self-sealing valve that prevents leakage. Patients don’t have to empty the contents of the reservoir as frequently as with other pouch types.
At the Center for Ileostomy Surgery, Dr. Don Schiller specializes in colostomies and other intestinal procedures. He provides compassionate care and takes your unique situation into account. Throughout your treatment, Dr. Shiller and his colleagues will offer guidance and support to help you maintain your active lifestyle.
We understand having a colostomy is an important and potentially life-changing decision. We’re here to make the process as convenient as possible so that you can resume your everyday life. Contact the office today for a consultation.