What Is a Colostomy?
The colon is responsible for storing and processing waste before the body purges it as fecal matter. When the colon becomes diseased, infected, or injured, healthcare providers must perform a colostomy so that the body can continue ridding itself of human waste. Instead of passing out through the anus, however, a colostomy results in an opening on the abdomen (a stoma) through which human waste can leave the body and collect in a bag on the exterior (a colostomy bag).
Who Needs a Colostomy?
Patients who have colon cancer, diverticulitis, or an injury that makes passing stools difficult, are advised to receive a colostomy. This healthcare procedure is especially popular for elderly patients whose internal plumbing has started to deteriorate.
The Actual Colostomy Procedure
The healthcare provider will administer general anesthesia prior to performing a colostomy. An incision is made near the problem area and a passageway is constructed between the colon and the stoma so that feces can flow freely. Thereafter, the colostomy bag is affixed to the abdomen, although it is easy to remove whenever cleaning and disposal are necessary (5-10 times a week). Proper cleaning is absolutely essential since unregulated waste can quickly lead to infections and more serious complications. Once the colon is fully healed, the bag is removed, the stoma is closed, and the wound is stitched up. Antibiotics and painkillers are routinely administered by healthcare providers until the wound is fully closed.