A colostomy can be temporary or permanent, and you may get it in any part of your large intestine. The difference between colostomy types is based on where they are located on the colon.
In some cases, your doctor may want to give your lower part of the colon some time to rest and recover from an illness. It is done by creating a colostomy. You may have to live with a temporary colostomy for a few weeks or months, depending on your recovery and overall health. Once the diseased part of the colon has healed, the surgeon will perform another surgery to reverse the colostomy, allowing you to expel bodily wastes through your anus.
A long-term or permanent colostomy may become inevitable if the diseased part of the colon has no chance of healing. The surgeon first removes that diseased part and then brings the active part of the colon out through a cut in the belly to create a stoma.
A transverse colostomy is more common than other types of colostomies. It is located on the upper abdomen, either on the right side of the middle of the body. This colostomy expels bodily wastes before they reach the descending colon. Health conditions that can lead a person to need a transverse colostomy include the following.
- Diverticulitis: This problem refers to the formation and inflammation of diverticula along the colon. It can result in scarring, abscesses, or rupture of the colon.
- Inflammatory bowel disease
In most cases, the surgeon rests the diseased part of the colon inside the abdomen to give it time to heal. The purpose is to keep the passage of stools away from the inflamed or infected area of the colon. Once your colon recovers, your surgeon will call you for another surgical procedure to reverse the colostomy. The time your colon needs to heal will depend on the severity of the disease and overall health.
This colostomy is made on the right side of the belly. With this colostomy, only a small part of the colon remains functional. It means that your stomal output will contain a lot of digestive enzymes, and it will be watery. That makes it necessary to wear a drainable ostomy pouch the entire time. You will have to make sure to protect your peristomal skin from getting in contact with the stomal output. The digestive enzymes in your stool can be quite corrosive for sensitive abdominal skin.
Descending and sigmoid colostomies
A descending colostomy is made on the descending part of the colon. In most cases, the output passing out of this colostomy is firm and controllable.
A sigmoid colostomy is made on the sigmoid colon. This colostomy is present just a few inches below the descending colostomy. Because you will have more of the working colon, your stool will be more formed.
Caring for a colostomy
How you should strategize your colostomy care regimen will depend on the type of colostomy. If you have an ascending or transverse colostomy, you may have to deal with unformed stools. Those stools are manageable through drainable ostomy bags. To manage colostomies producing firm stools, you have to use closed-end ostomy pouches. Once the pouch is filled, you have to throw it away and attach a new one. Alternatively, you can irrigate your colostomy to eliminate the need to wear an ostomy bag.