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Dr. Praveen Kammar

MS, MRCS, MCH

Surgical Oncologist

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Stomach Cancer | 29 March 2022

What is Colostomy?

Overview

A colostomy is a surgical operation that alters how food waste travels through your intestines. Surgeons create a new hole in your large intestine (colon) for faeces to come out when a portion of the colon must be skipped for medical reasons. You defecate into a colostomy bag if you have a colostomy. The colostomy may be either short or long-term.

What is a colostomy? 

A colostomy is an opening made in your large intestine that is brought out through the abdominal wall to divert stools. This is done by a surgical procedure that moves your colon from its typical path down towards the anus, to a new orifice on the abdominal wall. “stoma” is the name of the opening. Poop will now exit your colon via your stoma rather than your anus. You may have to wear a colostomy bag to collect the waste as it comes out. While some individuals only need a colostomy for a short while, others do so permanently.

What is Colostomy

When surgeries are performed on the colon or rectum, creation of a colostomy may become necessary. This is because you could need to cease using your colon that lies beyond the stoma, permanently or temporarily, depending on your medical condition and type of surgery performed. Following the procedure, your newly rerouted colon is called a “colostomy.” Your medical professional will speak with you about colostomy care and daily life.

Also Read : How to Detect Stomach Cancer Early?

Why colostomy?

There are two reasons for the creation of a stoma. 

  1. The large intestine and rectum are removed to address the medical condition and hence you no longer have a terminal gut. So you need a stoma to excrete stools. 
  2. The large intestine or rectum beyond the stoma needs to be rested to address the clinical condition you are suffering from. e.g: blockage, poor control over bowel, performance of colorectal anastomosis etc. 

Reasons for colostomy 

Lower bowel issues may have to be  treated by colostomies, which open up new passageways for feces. Your intestines continue to function much as they did before having a colostomy, with the following two exceptions:

  • Beyond where the colostomy has been performed, the colon and rectum are excluded from the path of stool passage or they are removed altogether.
  • Stools no longer exit the body via the anus.

There are several diseases, accidents, or digestive system issues that may need a colostomy, including:

  • A blockage in the big intestine is referred to as intestinal obstruction which could be due to cancer, hernia, diverticulitis, adhesions etc.
  • Colon cancer/ rectal cancer 
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Hirschsprung’s disease is an uncommon disorder that mostly impacts youngsters and may result in faecal blockage in the intestines
  • Injuries to the rectus or colon

Also Read : Robotic Cancer Surgery: All You Need To Know

How is colostomy done?

Colostomies may be done using either laparoscopic or open surgery:

Laparoscopic surgery :

A more recent, less intrusive technique than open surgery is laparoscopic surgery. A laparoscope, a small, lighted camera, is used for the procedure. The laparoscope, which displays your abdominal organs on a screen, is inserted into your belly by your surgeon via a tiny incision. 

Once they have access to your organs, your surgeon may finish the procedure using one or more minor incisions. Laparoscopic surgery has less blood loss, less discomfort, and a quicker recovery since the incisions are smaller. However, not all surgeries can be done in this manner with success. A planned laparoscopic procedure may have to be converted to open surgery in certain severe cases.

Open surgery :

Your abdominal cavity is exposed during an open surgery through a single, lengthy incision made by the surgeon. This is the conventional approach to reaching your abdominal organs, providing greater access, which is sometimes necessary. However, since it is a big operation, the recovery period is lengthier. 

In addition, the ailment you are being treated for and what else the surgeon has to do during the operation, in addition to the colostomy, may determine whether you get an open or a laparoscopic colostomy. Most of the time, you’ll be able to prepare since you’ll know in advance which kind of surgery you’ll have.

Conclusion

A colostomy is undoubtedly a life-changing procedure but also often a life-saving one. Living with a colostomy takes a significant adjustment, whether temporary or permanent. People with colostomies have complete, normal lives and often experience more comfort and freedom than before the procedure. While permanent stomas cannot be reversed, most of the temporary stomas are reversed easily by surgical procedure, thus restoring normal gut function.

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