Colostomies are surgical procedures that create an opening called a stoma. They are created in the large intestine for solid stool and gas to leave the body. At UNC Health, we regularly perform colostomies for Raleigh patients.
What Are Colostomies?
If you cannot have a bowel movement in the typical manner, your body needs a way to remove waste. With an ostomy, you wear a pouch attached outside your body to drain and store urine or stool as it is evacuated.
A colostomy is a type of ostomy that your surgeon makes from a portion of the large colon to allow stool to collect in a pouch worn on your abdomen. This can be created either laparoscopically or during an open surgery. Your surgeon may make an end colostomy or a loop colostomy, depending on the purpose of the ostomy and your needs. Colostomies can be permanent or temporary.
The consistency of the waste that drains into the external pouch from a colostomy depends on which section of the colon your surgeon uses to create it. One of the major functions of the large intestine is to recycle the water from the small intestine. Roughly two liters of fluid enter the right side of the colon from the small bowel every day. Therefore, if your surgeon creates a colostomy from the right colon, the content that drains into the ostomy bag will be liquidy. On the other hand, if your surgeon makes the colostomy from the left colon, the content that drains into the ostomy bag will be thicker and more like a regular bowel movement.
Candidates for Colostomies
Patients with certain digestive tract conditions affecting the large intestine may need a colostomy. Candidates should be healthy with no post-surgery-related issues.
During your consultation, our surgeon will discuss your options based on your condition, preferences, and physical evaluation. A surgical plan will be developed, and the surgeon will explain all the details with you. You can ask questions at any time.
The Colostomy Procedure
A colostomy surgery can last between two to four hours, depending on the surgical plan. The surgical area will be shaved, cleaned, and disinfected. Anesthesia will be administered for the patient’s comfort.
Incisions will be created according to the plan, and the colostomy procedure will be performed. After the stoma has been created, a temporary colostomy bag or pouch is placed over the stoma.
The Colostomy Recovery Period
The patient may need to stay in the hospital for two to five days after their surgery. They will continue the recovery process at home for around two months to fully heal. Recovery instructions will be given and must be followed carefully in order to minimize discomfort and prevent complications.