Colostomy surgery for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

A colostomy is a type of stoma created using your large intestine (colon). A stoma is an opening in your abdomen which is surgically created. It diverts faeces into a bag attached to the opening.

Stomas can be temporary or permanent. If you are given a permanent stoma then it will not be possible to reconnect your gastrointestinal tract at a later date. A temporary stoma is given when it is likely that a reversal will take place at a later date. This is where the GI tract is reconnected so you can go to the toilet ‘normally’ again.

What forms of IBD is colostomy surgery used to treat?

Crohn’s disease in the colon - Crohn’s (granulomatous) colitis and ileocolitis - and all forms of ulcerative colitis.

Why is colostomy surgery needed for IBD?

If you are having surgery to remove damaged parts of your colon then it may be necessary to create a colostomy if the colon cannot be reconnected or if your bowel needs time to heal before being reconnected.

How is colostomy surgery done?

Colostomy surgery can be done either through keyhole surgery (laparoscopic) or open surgery.

If you are having any part of your intestines removed then this will be done before the stoma is formed. Once this is completed the surgeon will create your stoma.

The surgeon may create your stoma in one of two ways:

There are also three types of colostomy. Which one you have will depend on which part of the colon is used to create the stoma. The types are:

Before your surgery you will likely be introduced to a specialist stoma nurse who can explain about the stoma you will be getting, the equipment you will need to use afterwards and discuss with you the position of your stoma.

Recovering from colostomy surgery

Having a stoma may seem very daunting and it will take you a bit of time to adjust to it. In the days after your surgery you will remain in hospital and specialist nurses will help to care for your stoma and teach you how to care for it yourself.

Your stoma will look moist, pinkish/red and seem quite large. This is perfectly normal following surgery and as it heals you will find that the size of your stoma reduces by around two thirds. This usually takes around 6-8 weeks. Everyone’s stoma is a different size.

It will take a few days for the stoma to start to work and at first the output may be quite watery with a strong smell. Again, as your body heals the consistency will become thicker and the odor will reduce.

You may also find that your stoma produces some noisy gas. This will settle.

While you are recovering you may be given a diet to follow to allow your body to heal and start to work again properly.

Once you are well enough, and you feel confident managing your stoma, you will be able to return home. This could be after 3-10 days. You will probably be told to avoid certain activities - such as heavy lifting - for several weeks after your surgery.

Possible complications of colostomy surgery

Complications which can happen shortly after your surgery include:

Complications which can occur anytime after your surgery include:

Things to know about colostomy surgery

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