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7 Reasons Why You May Need a Colostomy

Updated on July 22, 2017
AloBeDa profile image

Adjusting to a colostomy is tough—for me it was like a horrible dream. But with a positive mindset, I adjusted wonderfully.

What Is a Colostomy?

A colostomy is a surgical procedure whereby a section of the colon is diverted and then attached to a stoma, which is a hole made in the abdominal wall. This opening, the colostomy stoma, enables a patient to expel faeces from the digestive tract, because the bowels and rectum has been surgically disabled.

The colostomy procedure is performed as a life-saving measure that may be linked to various illnesses or conditions.

7 Most Common Reasons

There are many reasons why a patient may need colostomy surgery. The seven most common reasons involve the following conditions or situations:

  1. Diverticulitis
  2. Crohn’s disease
  3. Cancer of the bowels
  4. Obstruction of the bowels
  5. Trauma and injury
  6. An emergency situation
  7. Bowel incontinence

1. Diverticulitis

In diverticulitis, the diverticula, small pouches in the walls of the colon, get inflamed and then infected. The onset of this will give symptoms such as:

  • Severe pain in the stomach
  • Very high temperature
  • Vomiting

With severe or repeated diverticulitis disease, a patient's doctor may feel there is need to remove the affected section of the colon and reattached the remaining part of it. And because the colon will heal naturally, but needs some time, a patient may require a colostomy stoma as a temporary measure.

2. Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea

Patients with cases of Crohn’s disease can be treated without surgery, but if there is no response to treatment, colon surgery will have to be performed, by surgically removing a section of the bowel and performing a temporary colostomy procedure.

3. Cancer of the Bowels

Cancer of the bowels is one of the most common cancers in the developed world, with thousands of new cases occurring each year. They mostly develop within the rectum or the colon, and this condition is referred to as colorectal cancer.

A colostomy surgery is the most common form of treatment, where the affected portion of the bowel is surgically removed. With the removal of the diseased part, the remaining colon is then reattached, and a temporary colostomy stoma 'installed' to perform waste (faeces) elimination duties.

The temporary ostomy will be in use for times ranging from four months to a couple of years, depending on the physicians recommendations, and the patients condition. With reversible colostomy surgery, the colostomy and stoma will be removed, and the healed colon is reactivated.

However, with colorectal cancer, if the problem is within the rectum, and it has to be removed, it is likely that the patient will require a permanent colostomy. This form of colostomy procedure is irreversible.

4. Obstruction of the Bowels

An obstruction in the bowel is a serious condition and must be treated as a medical emergency.

This is because there is the risk of bowel rupture, which in turn will cause a serious infection and many times, internal bleeding.

The ways that the passage way of the bowel can become blocked include:

  • Acute constipation
  • Bowel cancer
  • Scarring of the bowel the lining (due to infection or inflammation)
  • Hernia

With severe bowel obstruction or rupture, it may become necessary to remove either a portion of the colon, in which case, a temporary colostomy will be performed.

However, if all of the colon is removed, the patient will require a permanent colostomy surgery.

5. Trauma and Injury

An experience of severe damage by a penetrating injury to the colon, for example, a gun shot wound, a knife stab, or a gruesome accident to the abdominal area, may require the colon to be removed.

Depending on the degree of injury, a temporary or permanent colostomy surgical procedure may be performed.

How Has It Been Coping With A Colostomy?

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6. An Emergency Situation

Some patients, in hospital for surgery related to other conditions, may wake up to discover they have a colostomy stoma. This most likely occurred during that involves dissection close to the colon.

For example, a female patient with massive fibroids may be in hospital to have them removed. Their size in itself may have encouraged 'gumming' to nearby organs.

And in trying to remove these fibroids, the colon may have been cut (accidentally), or nicked. If after surgery, there is an indication of severe infection, there is the likelihood of seepage of faeces into the body system.

With this, a temporary colostomy may have to be done to save the patients life. The colostomy reversal may then be carried out after a number of months.

7. Bowel Incontinence

Bowel incontinence is a medical condition whereby patients are unable to control their bowel movements, thereby experiencing episodes of embarrassing soiling.

This condition is more common with the elderly. A colostomy surgery may be used as a 'last resort’ medical measure, if all other medical or surgical procedures prove unsuccessful.

© 2010 AloBeDa

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    • profile image

      sonya 11 months ago

      i have stent and broken back i have taken two bowel movements and both had blood in them i feel sick to my stomache

    • profile image

      AloBeDa 11 months ago

      Hi Sonya

      I'll suggest you see your doctor as soon as you can. Bloody stool is an indication of an underlying problem which may be minor or major.

      It doesn't mean you'll need to have colostomy surgery so i wouldn't worry too much yet.

      But do see your doctor. He'll know what's best for you.

      Best wishes

    • AloBeDa profile image
      Author

      AloBeDa 11 months ago from The Global Village

      Hi Sonya

      I'll suggest you see your doctor as soon as you can. Bloody stool is an indication of an underlying problem which may be minor or major.

      It doesn't mean you'll need to have colostomy surgery so i wouldn't worry too much yet.

      But do see your doctor. He'll know what's best for you.

      Best wishes

    • profile image

      Michelle barry 2 days ago

      Can I ask to have a colostomy bag. I suffer severe constipation and have been hospitalised 3 times in the last few months. I also have been told I have colitis. I'm so so miserable and my quality of life is awful. It has not been offered but can I choose to have a bag as on my last admission a few weeks ago I was told that this would keep happening. I get admitted with tremendous pain and they think I have escemic colitus, if they get the bowel moving there will be no intervention if they can't they will operate. Can I ask for a bag seeing as we know the bowel doesn't work.

    • AloBeDa profile image
      Author

      AloBeDa 26 hours ago from The Global Village

      Hello, Michelle.

      I'm so sorry you have to go through so much pain.

      I doubt you can ask for a colostomy surgical procedure. It is your doctor(s) who'll be in the best position to decide on that. Having a colostomy is really not by choice and it will only be done if it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

      Don't feel so bad and try to look on the brighter side. Having to manage a colostomy is not the best, especially if it's a permanent one.

      I don't know if this helps, but I have been having on and off constipation in the past couple of months so i've had to take care about what i consume, quantities, and I drink lots of water. I find it has helped me.

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