A colostomy is a surgical procedure wherein an artificial opening is made by a surgeon in the abdominal wall. This opening is done to create a stoma which is a place where waste material of the body is accumulated and then eliminated. Instead of passing through the anus, the body waste proceeds to the stoma. On the stoma will be a pouch where the waste collects and this needs to be cleaned on a regular basis.
The colostomy can be placed in a location dependent on the condition of the patient. A person with rectal cancer, for example, can have the colostomy done perhaps just right next to where the anus is located. A patient with colon cancer, on the other hand, may have the colostomy placed right near the healthy part of the colon which then is connected to the stoma.
Colostomy is usually performed on cancer patients. It can also be performed on a child with a birth defect like a colon not reaching his rectum which can cause problems in the digestive process. A colostomy can either be a permanent or temporary process. The latter can be true if the patient has no cancer.
In essence the stoma performs the function of the anus in a colostomy. The only difference is that the anus has a functioning valve that enables it to control good bowel movements.
Why is colostomy a good idea?
Having a colostomy may seem like a very inconvenient idea. But about six weeks to two months after surgery, the stoma decreases in size and becomes only a temporary fixture (if you don’t have rectal or colon cancer) after which the anus will regain and take over the normal function of excreting waste once again. A colostomy may be the only way to survive a colon or rectal cancer.
With proper explanation of what’s colostomy about, the physician may lead the patient’s mind to rest and he will eventually get used to the colostomy. A colostomy patient can lead a normal life and perform all his daily activities. He may be restricted in performing activities that might overexert himself.
There are patients that may have a difficult time adjusting to the life they now need to face after the colostomy. To help them get through the transition process, support groups exist to aid them through this new reality. These support groups provide these people different ways to help them cope with their new state and help lessen the problems they encounter in everyday living.
Colostomy can cause depression – when you feel that you are starting to get depressed, it is good to talk to your doctor to help you find the best way to cope with your condition.