For many people, the word “ostomy” is often confused with “colostomy.” Unfortunately, interchanging these two terms is one of the most common misconceptions that has been going on for years. While the purpose of ostomy may connect to that of colostomy, there are significant distinctions between the two. This article will help raise your awareness by describing the critical factors that differentiate ostomy vs. colostomy.
Are you curious about what seems to be synonymous with ostomy vs. colostomy? If you want to know more about their similarities and differences, it helps to understand some basic information about our anatomy.
Digestion and metabolism take place in our gastrointestinal tract. Scientists refer to it as a muscular pathway consisting of several digestive organs attached along the way. These organs are responsible for breaking down the food we eat, converting it to its simplest forms, and carrying these nutrients to our system.
The digestive tract begins as the food enters our mouth. It then passes through the esophagus, which leads to the stomach, where it churns the food. The remaining food squeezes through the small intestine, where absorption takes place. After processing all the nutrients, the waste enters the large intestine and passes out through the anus.
What Is Ostomy?
Due to several medical conditions, ostomy surgery can be a life-saving procedure. It can be necessary to eradicate certain conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease or cancer. Additionally, it can also be an essential method to ease a bowel obstruction, urinary incontinence, or an intestinal accident.
An ostomy is a surgical operation that reroutes the excretion of bodily waste by taking a portion of the intestine out of the abdominal wall, forming a stoma. Since this artificial opening is where the urine and stool will exit the body, the patient must wear a prosthetic over their abdominal wall. This pouch is what they call the ostomy bag.
Depending on the type of bodily waste or part of the intestine removed, there are many varieties of ostomies. These include colostomy, ileostomy, and urostomy.
What Is Colostomy?
Also known as bowel diversion therapy, a colostomy is a treatment procedure that helps correct problems associated with the lower digestive tract. Its name comes from its root words “colon” and “ostomy,” a specific ostomy procedure of the colon or large intestine. A surgeon will recommend undergoing a colostomy procedure when a healthy portion of the rectum or the colon remains. It involves the removal of the diseased colon and replacement of its location to the abdominal wall.
For some diseases, your body must keep the stool out of the colon. Colostomy helps resolve these issues by temporarily diverting the feces away from the colon. However, there are also instances wherein the colon has been diseased completely. As for cases like colon cancer, total removal of the large intestine is necessary and requires permanent colostomies.
Compared with other ostomies, the waste products from colostomy tend to be less frequent yet more firm. It works similarly to a well-functioning anus or rectum, making it easier to resolve an inflammatory bowel disease.
What Are the Different Types of Colostomy?
The method of colostomy depends on the medical reason for the procedure and the part of the colon involved. Since every process is different, there is a variety of explanations why you would need a colostomy. Since the colon is such a large organ, it is split into sections and called differently. The four forms of colostomies are named after the place in the colon where the dissection occurs.
Below are the various types of colostomies and their predicted results.
On the beginning to the right middle section of the abdomen is the ascending colon. Because a small portion of the colon can successfully work, only a tiny amount of water from the substance undergoes removal. As a result, the waste product shows up as liquid or semiliquid, with gas being a common byproduct.
However, experts rarely recommend this colostomy procedure. When the small part of the colon remains, your surgeon may consider an ileostomy for the small intestine to be the more appropriate treatment option.
The transverse colon usually is present at the center of the abdomen, directly above the navel. The output has a liquid to a pasty consistency but can also come out as gas. The stool comes out softer because only a fraction of the colon can drain water from the indigestible substance.
For a descending colostomy, the surgery takes place on the lower left side of the abdomen. As the waste can move through the working parts of the colon, its byproducts can range from gas, formed, or pasty consistency.
Sigmoid colostomy, as its name suggests, is the most common type of colostomy procedure. It takes place from the sigmoid colon that appears in the lower left of the abdominal region. As the waste moves to the rectum, it produces an output similar to that of a descending colostomy. Stool from sigmoid colostomies can be either formed, pasty, or gas-like.
Ostomy and Colostomy: What to Expect?
Ostomy procedures usually require three to seven days of hospital recovery. However, if you had a colostomy due to an emergency, you are most likely to stay for a little longer. It can take up to two months to fully recover from any ostomy surgery.
During this time, you would need to follow certain restrictions. For colostomy, a specific diet is necessary until the colon recovers. If your colostomy is temporary, you will need to undergo a reversal surgery. Your surgeon will typically perform this surgery three months later.
Living with Ostomy and Colostomy
Having an ostomy procedure can elicit fears and anxiety. Indeed, undergoing these procedures might require a significant adjustment. Life with an ostomy can be an intricate or straightforward process. However, with the right mindset and approach, any person can get used to it quickly.
By educating each other, we can raise awareness and eliminate misconceptions and stigma associated with having an ostomy.