Top 6 Reasons for a Colostomy

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Catherine Spader on November 4, 2020
  • doctor-pointing-at-model-of-body
    The Purpose of a Colostomy
    A colostomy is part of a treatment plan for certain conditions of the colon or large intestine. It connects the colon to an opening—stoma—outside of the body located on the belly wall. Stool passes through the stoma into an ostomy bag, instead of through the rectum. Colostomies are often temporary to allow the bowel to rest and heal. A permanent colostomy is necessary if the rectum or large areas of the colon are diseased. Read on for the top reasons for this surgery.
  • Woman-suffering-of-stomach-and-head-ache
    1. Diverticulitis
    Diverticulitis is the growth of small pouches in the colon that are prone to inflammation and infection. It causes stomach pain, fever, and vomiting. Doctors first treat diverticulitis with diet and antibiotics. You may need surgery for a serious infection or repeated bouts of the disease. In very serious cases, surgery includes taking out the affected section of the colon and creating a colostomy until the remaining colon heals.
  • Midsection-Of-Woman-With-Stomachache
    2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and fatigue. Doctors first treat IBD with diet and medications. You may need surgery to remove part of the colon if you have serious problems, such as severe bleeding or colon blockage. Doctors also perform surgery when other treatments do not improve severe symptoms. A colostomy may be necessary in some cases.
  • Home-healthcare-worker-with-senior-woman
    3. Colorectal Cancer
    Colorectal cancer symptoms include rectal bleeding, change in bowel movements, and abdominal pain. Your doctor may recommend removing the affected part of the colon or rectum to help cure the disease or treat symptoms. Sometimes doctors can reconnect the healthy parts of the colon. When this is not possible, your doctor will create a colostomy. People with a colostomy still need ongoing screening for cancer recurrence.
  • anatomy-of-human-organs-in-x-ray-view
    4. Bowel Obstruction
    A bowel obstruction is a blockage that prevents the passage of digested food through the colon. Causes of a bowel obstruction include severe constipation, adhesions, tumors, hernias, complications from earlier abdominal surgery, and paralysis of the colon. Symptoms include fever and abdominal pain and swelling. A bowel obstruction can become life threatening and requires prompt surgery to remove the obstruction. Doctors must sometimes remove part of the colon and create a colostomy in severe cases.
  • Doctor-examining-an-abdominal-x-ray
    5. Injury
    Injury or trauma can severely damage the colon, rectum or anus. Doctors try to repair these injuries with surgery or other procedures. Sometimes, it is not possible to restore the health and function of colon, rectum or anus. If this is the case, your doctor may decide to remove all or part of these organs and create a colostomy. For less severe trauma, a temporary colostomy may only be necessary.
  • Baby's feet
    6. Birth Defects and Genetic Disorders
    A baby born with a blocked or missing anal opening (imperforate anus) may require a colostomy. Hirschsprung’s disease is a genetic disorder in which a child is missing some of the nerves that control the colon muscles. It can lead to a serious blockage. Doctors sometimes prevent blockages by removing the defective part of the colon and creating a colostomy.
Top 6 Reasons for a Colostomy

About The Author

  1. Evaluation and Management of Intestinal Obstruction. American Family Physician.
  2. Ileus and Bowel Obstruction. Bookshelf, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
  3. Colon Cancer Treatment. National Cancer Institute.
  4. Colostomy. Johns Hopkins Medicine.,p07727/
  5. Colostomy: A Guide. American Cancer Society.
  6. Colostomy. University of Maryland Medical Center.
  7. Colostomy - Why it’s used. National Health System.
  8. SSAT Patient Care Guidelines, Surgical Treatment of Diverticulitis. The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract.
  9. Surgery for Crohn's Disease & Ulcerative Colitis. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.
Was this helpful?
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 4
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.