What is a colostomy?

A colostomy is a surgically created opening from your large bowel to the surface of your abdomen. A colostomy provides a new path for waste material to leave your body after part of the large bowel has been removed. A colostomy generally produces a formed stool, however this can vary.

Info: A colostomy is usually on the left-hand side of your body, but in some circumstances may be formed on the righthand side.

You will either have an end colostomy or a loop colostomy.

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End colostomy

End colostomy

This is formed when part of the large bowel and/or the rectum are removed. The remaining large bowel is brought out to the surface of the abdomen to create a stoma.

An end colostomy can be temporary or permanent. If a temporary end colostomy is created, a diseased section of large bowel is removed, but the remaining bowel cannot be re-joined at the same time as it is unsafe or inappropriate for your surgeon to do this at this time.

However, it may be possible to re-join your large bowel in the future, and this can be discussed with your surgeon.

End colostomy:

  •   Large bowel
  •   Colostomy
  •   Rectum
  •   Anus
  •   Stoma
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Two common sites where you may find loop colostomy situated

Loop colostomy

A loop colostomy is usually created to protect a surgical join in the large bowel or to divert the flow of stool from an obstruction. It is formed when a loop of the large bowel is brought to the surface of the abdomen and opened to form a stoma. This can be temporary or permanent.

A loop colostomy has two openings; only one of these will pass stool, the other may produce mucus.

A loop colostomy can be situated anywhere within the large bowel depending on your situation. Common sites are pictured on the diagram.

Loop colostomy:

  •   Large bowel
  •   Transverse loop colostomy
  •   Sigmoid loop colostomy
  •   Rectum
  •   Anus
  •   Stoma