What is the Difference Between an Ostomy and a Colostomy?

What is the Difference Between an Ostomy and a Colostomy

Learning that you or your loved one is in need of any type of surgery may be challenging, especially if you are not familiar with the procedure. You may have heard about common surgical procedures such as cataract surgery, joint replacement or heart bypass surgery, but how knowledgeable are you about ostomy and colostomy? 

Ostomy and colostomy are not as uncommon as you may think. In fact, one in 500 Americans is an ostomy patient. Reports also show that 100,000 patients in the United States undergo colostomies every year.

If your physician has determined that you too are a candidate for these procedures then it would be helpful to learn all you can. At Quality Life Services Home Health we provide services in ostomy care as well as pre and post-surgical recovery. We know you may have questions about ostomy or colostomy and as such, we would like to help. Read on so that you can better understand what to expect from these procedures.

What Does Ostomy Mean?

Ostomy or stoma surgery is a procedure in which a surgeon creates an opening in the skin (usually the abdomen) as a way for waste products to leave the intestines. 

It is performed not only to help patients with severe medical conditions to relieve themselves but to also improve their quality of life as they manage their ailments. You or your loved one may be a candidate if you have medical conditions such as:

  • A blockage in your bowel
  • Colon or rectal cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • An injury affecting your intestines
  • Bladder cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis 

What is a Colostomy?

This is an operation in which the surgeon creates an opening into the colon through the abdomen. This allows fecal matter to bypass a part of the colon that has been damaged or diseased.

During the procedure, your surgeon will remove any damaged or diseased portions of your colon or rectum. They then take the remaining colon through your abdominal wall and attach it to your skin to create a stoma. A colostomy bag is then pouched around the stoma.

What is the Difference Between a Colostomy and an Ostomy?

As you may have gathered so far, there is not a major difference between a colostomy and an ostomy. A colostomy is actually a type of ostomy that allows the body to pass stool when the colon is not working properly, or if a disease is affecting a part of the colon and it needs to be removed.

Side Effects of Colostomy

Very few procedures are without complications. Contact your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Leakage of digestive waste
  • Skin irritation 
  • Not passing waste
  • Stomach pain, nausea or vomiting

A hernia can also form around a colostomy. To prevent this you should avoid heavy lifting and wear belts, underwear and other types of clothing that offer support. 

Side Effects of Ostomy

Below are mild to severe complications that you can look out for in addition to those listed above:

  • Diarrhea 
  • Narrowing of the stoma
  • Bowel protruding through the stoma
  • Bleeding
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency
  • Phantom rectum syndrome – refers to the urge you feel to pass waste even though the rectum has been removed. Thankfully this urge eventually goes away on its own.
  • Short Bowel Syndrome – the inability to absorb water and nutrients
  • Patients who still have their colon, rectum and anus may experience an occasional rectal discharge

Ostomy Care in Cincinnati, Ohio

As an ostomy patient, it’s important to note that it takes time to adjust, but it will get easier. With support from a knowledgeable and experienced nurse at Quality Life Services Home Health, you can take it one step at a time.

If you or a loved one needs ostomy care at home you can contact us today at (513) 860-1481. You can also request additional information by filling out this online form.