A colostomy is a surgical procedure that brings a portion of the large intestine through the abdominal wall to carry feces out of the body.
A colostomy is a means to treat various disorders of the large intestine, including cancer, obstruction, inflammatory bowel disease, ruptured diverticulum, ischemia (compromised blood supply), or traumatic injury. Temporary colostomies are created to divert stool from injured or diseased portions of the large intestine, allowing rest and healing. Permanent colostomies are performed when the distal bowel (at the farthest distance) must be removed or is blocked and inoperable. Although colorectal cancer is the most common indication for a permanent colostomy, only about 10–15% of patients with this diagnosis require a colostomy.
Estimates of all ostomy surgeries (those involving any opening from the abdomen for the removal of either feces or urine) range from 42,000 to 65,000 each year; about half are temporary. Emergency surgeries for bowel obstruction and/or perforation comprise 10–15% of all colorectal surgeries; a portion of these result in colostomy.
Surgery will result in one of three types of colostomies:
End colostomy. The functioning end of the intestine (the section of bowel that remains connected to the upper gastrointestinal tract) is brought out onto the surface of the abdomen, forming the stoma (artificial opening) by cuffing the intestine back on itself and suturing the end to the skin. The surface of the stoma is actually the lining of the intestine, usually appearing moist and pink. The distal portion of bowel (now connected only to the rectum) may be removed, or sutured closed and left in the abdomen. An end colostomy is usually a permanent ostomy, resulting from trauma, cancer, or another pathological condition.
Double-barrel colostomy. This involves the creation of two separate stomas on the abdominal wall. The proximal (nearest) stoma is the functional end that is connected to the upper gastrointestinal tract and will drain stool; the distal stoma, connected to the rectum and also called a mucous fistula, drains small amounts of mucus material. This is most often a temporary colostomy performed to rest an area of bowel, and to be later closed.
Loop colostomy. This surgery brings a loop of bowel through an incision in the abdominal wall. The loop is held in place outside the abdomen by a plastic rod slipped beneath it. An incision is made in the bowel to allow the passage of stool through the loop colostomy. The supporting rod is removed approximately seven to 10 days after surgery, when healing has occurred that will prevent the loop of bowel from retracting into the abdomen. A loop colostomy is most often performed for creation of a temporary stoma to divert stool away from an area of intestine that has been blocked or ruptured.
Janie F. Franz, Kathleen D. Wright RN, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,