Living with a colostomy

What is a stoma?

Understanding exactly what an ostomy is and how it is created is an important first step in coming to grips with how it might affect your daily life. 

Understanding what an ostomy is

A stoma is the result of an operation that is meant to remove disease and relieve symptoms. It is an artificial opening that allows faeces or urine either from the intestine or from the urinary tract to pass.

The stoma is created of an end of the intestine, which is brought to the surface of your abdomen to form the stoma (opening). 

Read more about Life After Colostomy 

Colostomy

In a colostomy operation, part of your colon is brought to the surface of your abdomen to form the stoma. A colostomy is usually created on the left-hand side of your abdomen. Stools in this part of the intestine are solid and, because a stoma has no muscle to control defecation, will need to be collected using a stoma pouch.

There are two different types of colostomy surgery: End colostomy and loop colostomy.

End colostomy

If parts of your large bowel (colon) or rectum have been removed, the remaining large bowel is brought to the surface of the abdomen to form a stoma. An end colostomy can be temporary or permanent. The temporary solution is relevant in situations where the diseased part of the bowel has been removed and the remaining part of the bowel needs to rest before the ends are joined together. The permanent solution is chosen in situations where it is too risky or not possible to re-join the two parts of the intestine.

Loop colostomy

In a loop colostomy, your bowel is lifted above skin level and held in place with a stoma rod. A cut is made on the exposed bowel loop, and the ends are then rolled down and sewn onto the skin. In this way, a loop stoma actually consists of two stomas (double-barrelled stoma) that are joined together. The loop colostomy is typically a temporary measure performed in acute situations. It can also be carried out to protect a surgical join in the bowel.

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