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

Colorectal Surgery

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Colostomy formation

A colostomy (or a stoma) is also commonly known as a "bag". A colostomy is an opening on the abdomen where the intestine is joined onto the skin of the abdomen. An adhesive bag is then applied onto the stoma which collects waste such as faeces. In a normal person, the contents of the large intestine usually empty via the rectum and the anus. In a patient with a colostomy, faecal material passes from the intestine via the colostomy into the adhesive bag instead of the rectum and anus.
The bag can then be emptied or changed as required.

Patients may require a colostomy bag because of a bowel cancer, an emergency operation for diverticulitis or because of inflammatory bowel disease where a part of the intestine has been removed and the two ends of bowel were not joined together either because it is not possible or not safe to do so.

Most patients who have colostomies have a normal life and can resume their usual activities of daily living.

Although some colostomies can be reversed, it is not always possible to do so. Your doctor will discuss with you whether your colostomy can be reversed.


Reviewed 2017