Frequently Asked Questions on Colostomy

What is colostomy?
A colostomy is an incision (cut) into the colon (large intestine) to create an artificial opening or 'stoma' to the exterior of the abdomen. This opening serves as an alternate pathway through which the intestines can eliminate waste products until the colon is healed or other corrective surgery is done.
The stoma is moist, pinky red in color and protrudes slightly from the abdomen. However, there is no sensation in the stoma and it is not painful.
When is colostomy needed?
A colostomy is needed for conditions such as 'necrotizing enterocolitis' (an acute inflammatory disease of the bowel), 'imperforate anus' (absence of anal opening) or Hirschsprung's Disease (a condition in which the nerves controlling bowel function are abnormal).
What kind of a collection bag should be used for colostomy?
A closed bag should be used for colostomy due to the firm consistency of the waste products and because there is no need to empty the bag. The bag is usually with a carbon filter so that intestinal gases can pass without leaving any smell. There are 1-piece and 2-piece systems available:
  • 1-piece systems
    In 1-piece appliances the adhesive and the bag are welded together. The advantage of using a 1-piece appliance is that it is easy to apply and the bag is flexible and soft.
  • 2-piece systems
    In 2-piece systems the bag and the adhesive are two seperate components. If your skin is sensitive the 2-piece system might be preferable as you do not need to remove the adhesive frequently from the skin. The adhesive can stay on for several days while the bag can be changed as required.