From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook May 2002:

About Colostomies

from Philadelphia (PA) Journal via Oklahoma City (OK) Ostomy News

There are several types of colostomies. The word "colostomy" means to create a new opening in the colon for stool to pass through. A stoma is the opening on the abdominal wall for the colostomy.

The location of the stoma defines what type of colostomy a person has. An Ascending Colostomy is on the right side of the abdomen and is made from the upward (ascending) portion of the colon. The stool is usually semi-soft to liquid.

Bowel movements usually occur shortly after a meal. The pouch should fit well around the stoma without any skin showing. Stool will irritate any skin that is exposed. If skin shows between the stoma and pouch opening, a pouch with a smaller stomal opening is needed or the skin should be protected with paste.

A Transverse Colostomy is on the upper part of the abdomen and can be located anywhere along the horizontal (transverse) portion of the colon. The stool is usually soft to slightly formed. Usually a bowel movement will occur a few hours after a meal. Again, the pouch must fit well to prevent skin from being irritated by stool.

A Sigmoid Colostomy is on the lower left side of the abdomen and is made from the downward (descending) portion of the colon. The stool is usually soft to firm.

After a period of time a person's bowel movements may occur at about the same time of day as they did before surgery. People with sigmoid colostomies usually have a choice of whether or not to irrigate. An irrigation is an enema given through the stoma to help the colon have a bowel movement at a certain time of day.

Whether or not a person irrigates is that person's choice, depending on how regular bowel movements were before surgery. Irrigation is not painful but needs to be done on a regular schedule to train the bowel with a new habit.

Regardless of what type of colostomy a person has, once strength is regained, they may return to a normal day's activities. Having a colostomy will not handicap anyone in any way as long as they manage the colostomy instead of letting it manage them.

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Content last revised 2002-05-26