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Simplified diagram of the digestive system
A colostomy is an opening created in the colon (the large intestine),3 diverting it outside the body, often on the left hand side of the abdomen.
This can be necessary if part of the rectum4 and/or colon needs to be removed or bypassed. Waste matter (faeces) comes out of the stoma and collects in a stoma pouch that is attached around it. The consistency of the waste matter will depend on how much of the colon has been removed – remember, it is from the colon that water in the waste material is absorbed back into the body. The further up the colon the stoma is created, the more liquid the waste material.
Colostomies can be permanent or temporary. Permanent colostomies can be needed if you have an obstruction or growth of some sort in the colon or rectum, accidental injury or if you have a severe case of inflammatory bowel disease. Temporary colostomies are usually needed if the intestine needs to rest or heal for a period of time – this could be because of accidental injury, or diverticular diseases where waste matter gets trapped in the intestine and causes inflammation, pain or bleeding.
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