Understanding How a Colostomy Works

Understanding How a Colostomy Works

It’s possible that nearly a million Americans are living with a temporary or permanent colostomy. This can seem like a frightening experience to be facing, but once you understand how colostomy works, you’ll be happy we have medical science that allows people with a damaged colon to survive.  

At Texas Surgical Care in Kingwood, Texas, Dr. Ronald Ambe sees many patients who’ve had a colostomy, and can help demystify this procedure while helping you learn to live with your colostomy bag.

How Your Colon Works

Food travels down your esophagus into your stomach, where it’s digested (broken down). Then it traverses the small intestine, which absorbs nutrients. 

The waste goes into the large intestine, or colon, and travels to the rectum and anus where it naturally exits your body when you go to the bathroom to empty your bowels.  

If your colon isn’t in working order, whether due to a trauma like a car accident, an infection, or a disease, like cancer, you may need a colostomy to restore function and save your life.

How a stoma works

When the colon is injured or diseased, a portion of it may have to be removed, which is known as a colon resection.

If the two ends can’t be immediately reattached to each other, creating a shorter but functional end-to-end colon, a stoma, or artificial opening to the outside of the body, must be made to allow waste to exit safely. 

The stoma is simply the new end of the colon, which is extruded through a tiny hole in your abdomen and sewn in place. 

A plastic seal is placed over it to prevent infection, and a sterile bag is attached to the seal. Your waste goes in the bag, which can be emptied regularly.                  

How your colostomy keeps you alive

If waste can’t exit the body, it would build up inside you and make you sick. When you can’t get waste out of your body, you can’t survive. 

If waste enters a part of your body outside the gastrointestinal system, it can cause severe infection. When you can’t prevent waste from causing contamination and infections, you can’t survive.

By making a safe way for waste to exit the body, a colostomy literally saves your life. For some people, a colostomy is temporary, letting the remainder of the colon heal enough to be reattached. For others, a colostomy is permanent, allowing them to live a long, healthy life.    

Still worried about having a colostomy? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Ambe and his team by calling 832-280-6782, or request an appointment online

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