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A female asked:

Colorectal cancer surgery and colostomy? why does the doctor have to do a colostomy as part of colorectal cancer surgery? what is it exactly (a hole in my abdomen?) and how long will i have it?

2 doctor answers5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Virgilio George
General Surgery 16 years experience
Some : Some ostomies are for ever and other temporary. For low rectal cancer a temporary may be use to proted the new conection alowed to be healthy.If the cancer is to low involving the muscle to control the stool a penmanented ostomy is need. Yes a stoma is a open in you abdomen that alowwed a small portion of teh bowel to come out and it is cover by a ostomy bag.
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.
Dr. Jorge Lopez-Canino
General Surgery 32 years experience
Not : Not all colorectal cancer surgeries requires a colostomy. A colostomy is more often needed during an emergency operation (when there is no time to clean the bowel properly before the operation), like perforation or obstruction of the bowel caused by the tumor, that can create contamination and infections inside the abdomen. In those conditions putting the bowel together could be very risky and lead to failure of the operation, and doing a colostomy would help to control the contamination and prevent further infection. Commonly, after four to six weeks it is then safe to put the bowel together. On the other hand, if a colorectal cancer is detected in an early stage and no emergency situations are present, the bowel can be prepared properly and put together with less chances of having a complication. However, even in ideal conditions, some times the surgeon can find situations during the surgery which are concerning for possible complications (like poor blood supply to the bowel) and a temporary colostomy is performed to protect the bowel connection and let it heal safely without the passage of stool. Finally, some colostomies are permanent, depending on the location, the size, or the extension of the tumor to other organs.
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.

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Last updated Oct 4, 2016

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