Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Department of Colorectal Surgery

Colorectal Surgery

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Colostomy

A colostomy is an opening onto the abdominal wall where the large bowel is brought through. The word colostomy is made from two Greek words; Kolon, meaning large intestine, and "stoma" meaning mouth.

A colostomy may have one or two ends of bowel brought out or can be located at the stoma site. If the colostomy is just one end it is called an end colostomy. If there are two ends, it may be called a loop or an end-loop (also known in Australia as an Abcarian) colostomy, depending on how they are constructed.

A colostomy may be permanent or temporary. It is permanent if the bowel downstream of the ileostomy has been cut out (resected), or is diseased and the stoma or bag should not be closed, or if the person is too unwell to have their bag ever closed. It is temporary if the bowel downstream and anus are still intact and able to function, and the person is well enough to have their bag closed.

The most common colostomy is an end colostomy which is commonly made if the rectum and anus had to be resected downstream because of a low rectal cancer; or a potentially temporary end colostomy, if the sigmoid colon or part of it had to be cut out or resected as part of emergency surgery for diverticular disease, and the bowel was not suitable for being joined at that surgery.

The stomal therapists are nurses who specialise in the care, education and training of patients with stomas, and they will commonly site your ileostomy preoperatively where your ileostomy will best suit you and your body, and your needs and abilities.

It is best to discuss any more detail with your doctor and stomal therapist.

Reviewed 2017