During colorectal surgery, often a colectomy, parts of the colon or rectum are surgically removed (sometimes the entire rectum). Here’s what you should know.
During colorectal surgery, often a colectomy, parts of the colon or rectum are surgically removed (sometimes the entire rectum is removed). When part of the rectum is removed, the surgery is called proctectomy. You will be given instructions on how to get ready for your surgery. Follow these instructions carefully. You will likely be admitted to the hospital on the day of your surgery. In certain cases, you may need to be admitted to the hospital the day before. You may have open surgery or laparoscopic surgery.
What is a colostomy?
If part of your colon and rectum are removed, you will need a colostomy. A colostomy is an operation that creates an opening for the colon, or large intestine, through the abdomen. A colostomy may be temporary or permanent.
After a colostomy
Getting used to a colostomy may take time. Learning to care for it and the changes in your body can be tough. Keep in mind that you are still the same person you were before the colostomy. And you can still do many of the activities that you love.
Caring for your stoma
During an end colostomy, the end of the colon is brought through the abdominal wall, where it may be turned under, like a cuff. The edges of the colon are then stitched to the skin of your abdominal wall to form an opening called a stoma. Stool drains from the stoma into a bag or pouch attached to your abdomen.
Changing your pouch
Your healthcare provider gave you a stoma during surgery. Stool starts to pass from the stoma soon after surgery, into a pouch attached with adhesive to your body. That means you’ll need to learn how to change your pouch before you go home. You usually need to change your drainable pouch every once or twice a week, but you will empty your pouch more often.
Irrigating your colostomy
Irrigating a colostomy allows you increased control over the timing of your bowel movements. Once a day, or once every other day, you irrigate by flushing the colostomy with warm water. To irrigate, you need an irrigation kit, hook, and water-soluble lubricant. Before starting an irrigation program, get specific instructions from an enterostomal or wound-ostomy-continence healthcare provider.
Managing your nutrition
You don’t have to eat a special diet just because you’ve had a colostomy. Most foods, chewed well and eaten slowly, won’t give you problems — unless they did before. But you may need to be more aware of foods that cause gas or odor and foods that make your stool too runny or too hard.
Living an active life
Once you heal from surgery, you can still live an active life. In most cases, it’s your choice how much having a colostomy limits your life.
March 18, 2020