Line drawing showing a permanent colostomy for rectal cancer.
ICD-9-CM 46.1
MeSH D003125

A colostomy is a surgical procedure in which a stoma is formed by drawing the healthy end of the large intestine or colon through an incision in the anterior abdominal wall and suturing it into place. This opening, in conjunction with the attached stoma appliance, provides an alternative channel for feces to leave the body. It may be reversible or irreversible depending on the circumstances.



There are many reasons for this procedure. Some common reasons are:

  • A section of the colon has been removed, e.g. due to colon cancer requiring a total mesorectal excision, diverticulitis, injury, etc., so that it is no longer possible for feces to exit via the anus.
  • A portion of the colon (or large intestine) has been operated upon and needs to be 'rested' until it is healed. In this case, the colostomy is often temporary and is usually reversed at a later date, leaving the patient with a small scar in place of the stoma. Children undergoing surgery for extensive pelvic tumors commonly are given a colostomy in preparation for surgery to remove the tumor, followed by reversal of the colostomy.


Placement of the stoma on the abdomen can occur at any location along the colon, but the most common placement is on the lower left side near the sigmoid where a majority of colon cancers occur. Other locations include the ascending, transverse, and descending sections of the colon.[1]

Types of colostomy:[2]

  • Loop colostomy: This type of colostomy is usually used in emergencies and is a temporary and large stoma. A loop of the bowel is pulled out onto the abdomen and held in place with an external device. The bowel is then sutured to the abdomen and two openings are created in the one stoma: one for stool and the other for mucus.
  • End colostomy: A stoma is created from one end of the bowel. The other portion of the bowel is either removed or sewn shut (Hartmann's pouch).
  • Double barrel colostomy: The bowel is severed and both ends are brought out onto the abdomen. Only the proximal stoma is functioning.

Colostomy surgery that is pre-planned usually has a higher rate of long-term success than surgery performed in an emergency situation.[citation needed]

Colostomy with irrigation

People with colostomies who have ostomies of the sigmoid colon or descending colon may have the option of irrigation, which allows for the person to not wear a pouch, but rather just a gauze cap over the stoma, and to schedule irrigation for times that are convenient. To irrigate, a catheter is placed inside the stoma, and flushed with water, which allows the feces to come out of the body into an irrigation sleeve. Most colostomates irrigate once a day or every other day, though this depends on the person, their food intake, and their health.

Colostomy without irrigation

Colostomies are not viewed positively due to the misconception that it is difficult to hide the pouch and the smell of feces, or to keep the pouch securely attached. However, modern colostomy pouches are well-designed, odor-proof, and allow stoma patients to continue normal activities. Latex-free tape is available for ensuring a secure attachment. People with colostomies must wear an ostomy pouching system to collect intestinal waste. Ordinarily the pouch must be emptied or changed several times a day depending on the frequency of activity; in general the further from the anus (i.e., the further 'up' the intestinal tract) the ostomy is located the greater the output and more frequent the need to empty or change the pouch.


The preferred option by the surgical community, wherever possible, is now an internal colo-anal pouch which eliminates the need for an external pouch.[citation needed] In place of an external appliance, an internal ileo-anal pouch is constructed using a portion of the patient's lower intestine, to act as a new rectum to replace the removed original.

A UK man named Ged Galvin has been given a remote-controlled bowel.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Potter et al. Canadian Fundamentals of Nursing 3rd ed.2006, Elsevier Canada.p1393
  2. ^ Potter et al. Canadian Fundamentals of Nursing 3rd ed.2006, Elsevier Canada. p1393-1394
  3. ^ citation via The Telegraph

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • colostomy — 1888, from COLON (Cf. colon) (2) + Mod.L. stoma opening, orifice, from Gk. stoma opening, mouth (see STOMA (Cf. stoma)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • colostomy — ► NOUN (pl. colostomies) ▪ a surgical operation in which the colon is shortened and the cut end diverted to an opening in the abdominal wall. ORIGIN from COLON(Cf. ↑colon) + Greek stoma mouth …   English terms dictionary

  • colostomy — [kə läs′tə mē] n. pl. colostomies [ COLO(N) + STOMY] the surgical operation of forming an artificial anal opening in the body from the colon …   English World dictionary

  • Colostomy — An alternative exit from the colon created to divert waste through a hole in the colon and through the wall of the abdomen. A colostomy is commonly performed by severing the colon to attach the end leading to the stomach to the skin through the… …   Medical dictionary

  • colostomy — /keuh los teuh mee/, n., pl. colostomies. Surg. 1. the construction of an artificial opening from the colon through the abdominal wall, thus bypassing a diseased portion of the lower intestine and permitting the passage of intestinal contents. 2 …   Universalium

  • colostomy — n. a surgical operation in which a part of the colon is brought through the abdominal wall and opened in order to drain or decompress the intestine. The part of the colon chosen depends on the site of obstruction. An iliac colostomy opens onto… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • colostomy — UK [kəˈlɒstəmɪ] / US [kəˈlɑstəmɪ] noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms colostomy : singular colostomy plural colostomies medical a medical operation in which part of the colon is removed and a hole is made in the stomach through which solid… …   English dictionary

  • colostomy — [[t]kəlɒ̱stəmi[/t]] colostomies N COUNT A colostomy is a surgical operation in which a permanent opening from the colon is made. [MEDICAL] …   English dictionary

  • colostomy — An opening into the colon from the outside of the body. A colostomy provides a new path for waste material to leave the body after part of the colon has been removed …   English dictionary of cancer terms

  • colostomy — noun (plural mies) Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary 2col + stomy Date: 1888 surgical formation of an artificial anus by connecting the colon to an opening in the abdominal wall …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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