Ostomy surgery refers to a surgical process that connects an internal organ to the outside of the body. The word ostomy is generally used for an intestinal diversion that brings a part of the bowel to the abdominal wall, forming an opening in the belly. This opening is known as the stoma. This diversion expels waste materials out of the body without allowing them to pass through the diseased part of the digestive tract.
There are two types of bowel ostomy.
- Colostomy, which brings a part of the colon to the abdominal wall
- Ileostomy, which brings the end of the small intestine or ileum to the abdominal wall
Both these ostomies can be permanent or temporary, depending on the type or severity of the underlying reason.
Reasons you may need an ostomy
The purpose of the intestines is to move the food mixture towards the rectum and anus. The entire length of the digestive pathway consists of tissues that extract nutrients from that mixture. Once all of the nutrients are absorbed, the leftover is food waste. Any interruption in the GI tract’s pathway can cause problems that might be addressable through an ostomy. The surgeon will disconnect the diseased part of the bowel from the healthy section and pull the end of the healthy bowel through a small incision in the belly to create a stoma.
Reasons that may lead you to require an ostomy may include the following.
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Bowel cancer
- Severe infection
The surgeon will give you a temporary ostomy if the diseased part of your bowel needs to rest for some time. You may need a permanent ostomy if the diseased section of your bowel is incurable, and the surgeon has no option other than removing it.
What to expect from an ostomy procedure
Your doctor will run a few tests to make sure that your body is ready to endure the surgical procedure. Those tests include the following.
- Physical test
- Urine and blood tests
- Imaging tests
You will need to talk to your doctor regarding the medication that you currently take. The doctor will see if those medications can be a cause of concern during or after surgery. The doctor will ask you to stop taking those medicines a week before surgery.
Before surgery, the surgeon will give you general anesthesia to put you to sleep. You will feel nothing during the procedure.
The ostomy that you get will be either a loop ostomy or an end ostomy. A loop ostomy is when the surgeon pulls a loop of the bowel out through the cut in the belly and creates an opening on the top of the loop to construct a stoma. A loop ostomy has two openings. One opening expels wastes out of the body, while the other one is connected to the rested or inactive part of the colon. A loop ileostomy is generally temporary.
An end ostomy is when the surgeon rests or removes the diseased part of the bowel by separating the healthy section of the bowel from the diseased one. This ostomy can be temporary or permanent.
Living with an ostomy
With an ostomy, you are going to have to wear an ostomy bag the entire time. This bag will collect waste materials that you can get rid of by emptying or discarding the pouch. An ostomy doesn’t stop you from living a healthy and active life, but you will need to adapt to an ostomy care regimen, which can be difficult at first, but it gets easier with time. You may want to discuss these matters with your doctor or ostomy care nurse.