Colostomy is a surgical procedure in which a part of the colon (large intestine) is brought through the wall of the abdomen through an opening which is called a stoma. Solid waste material (the stool) from the intestine is expelled through the stoma and drains into a colostomy bag which is attached to the stoma. Since the colostomy is done under general anesthesia, the patient is unconscious, and feels no pain. Colostomies may be temporary or permanent.
Reasons for a colostomy include:
- Infection in the colon
- Rectal cancer too low to reconnect a cancer-free end of the rectum to the colon above it
- Injuries or infections too close to the anus to permit normal bowel movements
Whether or not the colostomy is temporary or permanent depends on the specific situation. However, permanent colostomies are much less common now than they were in the past. With the training of a health care professional, a person with a new colostomy must learn to care for the colostomy, as well as the opening on the abdominal wall, which is called a stoma.
Colostomies are often viewed negatively because it is thought that they have an odor, or are difficult to keep properly attached. However, modern colostomy pouches are odor-proof, and permit colostomy patients to continue their normal activities, including sex.