|Click the icon to see an image detailing pelvic laparoscopy.|
|Click the icon to see an illustrated series detailing a resection of the large intestine.|
A colostomy is performed in order to bypass or remove the lower colon and rectum. The procedure generally involves creating a passage, called a stoma, through the abdominal wall that is connected to the colon. The feces pass through this passage and are eliminated. Patients must learn how to care for the stoma and keep the area sanitary.
A colostomy usually will have one opening (single-barreled), or there may be two loops opening through the skin (double-barreled).
Usually the colostomy is temporary and can be reversed by a second operation after about 3 - 6 months. If the rectum and sphincter muscles in the rectum need to be removed, the colostomy is permanent. Permanent colostomies are more common when the cancerous regions are within 2 - 3 centimeters of the anus. Fortunately, surgical advances and knowledge of the extent of safe margins are reducing the need for permanent colostomies.
|Click the icon to see an illustrated series detailing a colostomy procedure.|
Managing Permanent Colostomies. In cases where the colostomy is permanent, the patient must wear a colostomy pouch, which sticks to the skin using a special glue.
For best results, the pouch should be emptied when about one-third full. It should be replaced 1 - 2 times a week, depending on signs of leakage (itching or burning of the skin near the stoma). The pouches are odor proof.
Surgical Treatments for Rectal Cancer
Surgical treatments for cancer in the rectum are complex since they involve muscles and tissue that are critical for urinary and sexual function.
Review Date: 10/21/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.