Your colon is one of the last areas where food waste passes before it enters the anal canal and is discharged from your body. In the event that a problem has developed in your colon, it may become necessary to reroute how waste is removed from your body, and one way to do that is with the help of a colostomy. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the colostomy procedure and why someone may need to undergo the surgery to address a problem with their colon.
Why Might I Need A Colostomy?
As waste prepares to leave your body, it passes through about six feet of the large intestine, also known as your colon. If a problem develops where the colon no longer works properly, or if you develop colon cancer in part of your large intestine, you may need to find another way for food waste to safely leave your body. You can achieve this through a colostomy.
A colostomy procedure involves rerouting the end of the colon to a small opening in the skin, known as a stoma. A small bag or pouch is then attached to this small opening to catch waste products as they pass through the colon and out of your body. Interestingly, a colostomy procedure can be performed on a temporary or permanent basis. In the event that part of your colono simply needs time to heal, the colostomy may only be needed for a short period of time. For example, if you are dealing with trauma to the area or recovering from a surgery that will leave the colon intact, but it needs time to recover without passing food waste through it, a temporary colostomy may be ordered.
If a section of the colon needs to be totally removed to address cancer or the formation of a tumor, the colostomy may need to be performed on a permanent basis. Which part of the colon is affected dictates the location of the stoma on your abdomen. It may be on your left, right or mid-abdomen depending on what is right for you, and this will be determined by your surgeon and an ostomy specialist. The location of the ostomy also impacts the formation of waste products that are passed into the ostomy bag. One of the main functions of the colon is to absorb water, so the higher up in the colon the colostomy is made, the less time it’s had to remove water. A colostomy that is further down the colon will typically pass more solid and formed stool.
The procedure will vary slightly based on the specific type of colostomy being performed, and we’ll touch on the different types in another blog. Using either an open or minimally invasive technique, the surgeon will create an opening on your abdomen. They will access the large intestine, cut it at the appropriate area and bring it through the abdominal wall. A small ring will then be placed around the large intestine to help hold it in place and to aid in healing around the intestine. The wound will then be closed with stitches, and you’ll be discharged to a recovery room.
Assuming everything goes as expected, you’ll typically be able to return to a normal diet 2-3 days after the procedure, will clear liquids and soft foods at the beginning to ensure everything is working properly. You’ll also meet with an ostomy nurse to help teach you how to care for and clean your stoma, as well as how to properly dispose of waste with the help of ostomy bags.
It may take a little time to adjust to life after a colostomy, but most people eventually get used to the process and it becomes a new normal. Oftentimes these bags can be easily concealed under clothing, and you should be able to return to almost all normal physical activities once healing has fully run its course.
Contact Bhatti GI
If you end up having an issue with your colon, let Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants diagnose your condition and set you up with some helpful treatments. For more information about colostomies or other GI procedures, give our team a call today at (952) 368-3800.