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What is a Colostomy Stoma?

Article Details
  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A colostomy stoma is an artificial opening used to aid proper colonic function in the presence of defect, injury or illness. Depending on the reason for the colostomy placement, the artificial passage may remain in place temporarily or permanently; sometimes following either the partial or complete removal of the large intestine. As with any invasive procedure, surgery to position a colostomy stoma does carry significant risks and these should be discussed with a qualified health care provider during consultation prior to scheduling surgery. Once the colostomy stoma is in place, proactive aftercare measures are necessary to prevent the development of complications, including infection and wound rupture.

There are several reasons why an individual may undergo surgery for stoma placement. The presence of serious or extensive infection within the abdominal cavity can necessitate the repositioning of colonic tissue through a stoma until the infection is eliminated. Trauma to the lower digestive tract, including the lower large intestine, may require placement of a colostomy stoma to reduce colonic stress as the affected area heals. Most commonly, a colostomy stoma may be positioned in the presence of intestinal blockage or chronic disease, such as certain cancers, that prevents proper intestinal function.

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Performed under general anesthesia, surgery to position a colostomy requires the introduction of an incision within the abdominal wall. The artificial opening created in the abdominal tissue is known as a stoma. It is through the stoma that healthy colonic tissue, from which the moniker colostomy is derived, is positioned to form the colostomy stoma. Once the intestinal tissue is placed through the stoma, sutures attach it to the abdominal wall and affix the outer edges to the stoma. A disposable colostomy bag is externally positioned and fastened with tape over the opening to collect fecal waste.

Individuals who undergo surgery for colostomy stoma placement generally remain hospitalized for up to a week, depending on their recovery. As the bowel heals, one’s diet is usually monitored and slowly progresses from clear liquids to solid foods over the course of several days. During recovery, the individual is instructed on how to properly care for and maintain his or her colostomy stoma. Working closely with a nurse or counselor following surgery may help alleviate apprehension and educate the patient about life with a colostomy. If the artificial opening is intended for short-term use, a second surgery will be necessary to reverse the stoma and restore the large intestine to its anatomical position and proper function.

Once the stoma has healed, individuals may usually resume normal activities without restriction. Risks associated with surgery to position this type of stoma include excessive bleeding, infection, and wound rupture. Some individuals may develop bleeding within the abdominal cavity, hernia formation at the stoma site or stoma blockage. The use of general anesthetic medications can carry a risk for respiratory difficulty and allergic reaction.

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