A loop colostomy is a procedure which is typically used to treat conditions such as Crohn’s disease, bowel cancer, and diverticulitis. It involves creating a large stoma through which stool and mucus can exit the body. In the majority of cases, once the original health issue has been resolved, the procedure can be reversed. Continue reading to find more about this procedure.
The Surgical Process
The procedure entails exposing a loop of the bowel by pulling it through an incision made in the abdomen. A further incision is then made to divide the exposed loop into two separate openings, known as the proximal opening and the distal opening.
The proximal opening is connected to the functioning part of the bowel and as such it’s through this pathway that stool will leave the body after the operation. The distal opening, on the other hand, is connected to the inactive part of the bowel and as a result, serves as a pathway for mucus to leave the body. It should be noted that since the connection between the colon and the rectum remains intact that, even after the operation, patients may sometimes pass stool through the rectum.
On occasion, a support device, typically either a rod or a bridge, may be used to secure the exposed stoma during the initial healing process. Generally, the device is removed several days after the operation is completed.
Following the procedure, the exposed stoma will remain swollen for several weeks. Indeed, it may take up to 2 months for the stoma to eventually shrink down to its final size. As there are no nerve endings present in the stoma, the protruding bowel is consequently painless to touch. However, although painless, if the stoma is touched it may start to bleed.
For 8 weeks following the operation, it’s recommended that patients should stick to a low-fiber diet. Similarly, after the operation, patients should also engage in gentle exercise to facilitate recovery.
Reversing the Procedure
It’s worth noting that reversal surgery is contingent upon the patient being in good overall health. As such, in cases, for example, where the patient is undergoing further treatment, surgery may be delayed. There is, however, no upper time limit on when reversal surgery can be performed.
Reversing the procedure involves undergoing a relatively straightforward secondary operation. During this follow-up surgery, the upper section of the colon is reconnected to the remaining section of the colon.
Some of the most common complications associated with undergoing a loop colostomy are rectal discharge, parastomal hernia, and stoma blockage. Additional complications include skin problems, stomal fistula, stoma retraction, stoma prolapse, stomal stricture, leakage, and stomal ischemia.