Understanding Ostomy

An ostomy changes the way your body gets rid of bodily wastes. Most of the time, the purpose of an ostomy is to allow a diseased part of your bowel to rest and heal before the surgeon reconnects the bowel. Ostomy surgery results in the formation of an opening in the abdomen. This opening provides bodily wastes the passageway to the outside of the body.

What is ostomy surgery?

During ostomy surgery, the surgeon opens the abdominal cavity to disconnect the diseased part of the bowel from the healthy portion. He then brings the end of the healthy GI tract to the abdominal wall and passes it through a small cut to create a stoma on the abdomen.

A stoma is usually pink or red, moist, and soft to touch. It doesn’t have sphincter muscles to allow you to control your stool evacuations, so you must wear an ostomy pouch to prevent your stools from falling out. That bag attaches to the peristomal skin to create a leak-proof seal.

The reasons you may need an ostomy are the following.

Types

There are two types of intestinal ostomies: a colostomy and an ileostomy. These ostomies get their name based on the part of the bowel pulled out to create a stoma. A stoma created on the colon is known as a colostomy, while the one created on the ileum or small intestine is known as an ileostomy.

Colostomy

This ostomy is created on the colon. The stoma created on the colon usually protrudes one centimeter above the abdominal skin. This colostomy is usually on the left side of the abdomen.

A colostomy can be an end colostomy or a loop colostomy.

In a loop colostomy, the surgeon pulls a loop of the colon through a cut in the belly and makes a small incision on the top of that loop to create a stoma.

In an end colostomy, the surgeon disconnects the diseased part of the colon from the healthy one and brings the end of the healthy part to create a stoma.

Ileostomy

Ileostomy surgery results in the formation of a stoma on the ileum or small intestine. The part of the intestine sticking out on the belly in this type of ostomy usually raises two centimeters above the level of the abdominal skin. This ostomy bypasses the entire colon. It is usually present on the right side of the abdomen.

Procedure

An ostomy surgical procedure can be open surgery or laparoscopic surgery.

Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive. The surgeon will create multiple small incisions in the belly to pass tools and equipment. Those tools also include a camera that allows the surgical team to maneuver the operation.

Open surgery is a more invasive option. The surgeon creates one large incision to access the entire intestinal tract.

After surgery

After surgery, the patient has to live in the hospital for about 3-10 days. The reason for this hospitalization is the need for consistent monitoring. The medical and surgical staff has to make sure that you are on the way to recovery without any risks of infections or complications.

During this hospital stay, you will also learn about ostomy supplies. Your nurse will explain everything regarding how to use these supplies to manage your ostomy.