(ii) Colostomy-Related List of Physician-Directed Questions


Patients who have had surgical treatment of their colon or rectal cancer may require a colostomy. Colostomy is a surgical procedure that brings the end of the large intestine through the abdominal wall. Stools moving through the intestine drain into a bag attached to the abdomen. Colostomy is done while you are under general anastesia. It may be done with invasive, open surgery or several small surgical cuts (laparoscopically). For the colostomy, the end of the healthy colon is brought through the abdominal wall. The edges are stitched to the skin of the abdominal wall. A bag called a stoma appliance is secured around the opening to allow stool to drain. Your colostomy may be short-term. If you have surgery on part of your large intestine, a colostomy will allow the remainder of your intestine to rest for awhile while you recover. See diagram below for illustration. Once your body has fully recovered from the initial surgery, you will have another surgery to reattach the ends of the large intestine.

An ileostomy is an opening in the belly wall that is made during surgery. The word "ileostomy" comes from the words "ileum" and "stoma." Your ileum is the lowest part of your small intestine. "Stoma" means "opening." Your ileum will pass through a stoma after surgery. Ileostomies are used to deliver waste out of the body when the colon or rectum are not working properly.

Illustration of Colostomy Procedure

Procedure, part1Procedure, part 2Aftercare

Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/presentations/100011_5.htm

In the event that a colostomy is required, the following list of questions are provided to assist in your discussion with the physician who is usually the surgical oncologist.

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Colostomy-Related List of Questions

  • Will I require a colostomy?
  • If I have a colostomy, will it be temporary or permanent?
  • If I have a temporary colostomy, when will I have additional surgery to have the stoma removed?
  • Will I be assigned a colostomy nurse to provide detailed information, answer questions and help me learn to manage it after the surgery?
  • What type of colostomy will I have? (Colostomy vs. Ileostomy)
  • Will I be required to change my diet?
  • How will the colostomy be placed to minimize discomfort and inconvenience?