Jump to content

  • Forum Rules

Welcome to the Apparelyzed Spinal Cord Injury and Cauda Equina Syndrome Support Forum

Sign In  Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter

Create Account
Welcome to Apparelyzed, an active and vibrant spinal cord injury and cauda equina syndrome support forum. Like most online communities you must register to view or post in our community, but don't worry this is a simple free process that requires minimal information for you to signup. Be apart of our spinal cord injury support community by signing in or creating an account.
  • Start new topics and reply to others
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get email updates
  • Get your own profile page and make new friends
  • Send personal messages to other members.
  • Talk to others in real time in the Chat Room
Don't forget to follow the latest spinal cord injury news articles on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Posted Image Posted Image

We look forward to welcoming you to our community and reading your contributions and questions.
Forum Administrator.


Colostomy Questions

colostomy bowel trouble

  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 jjbeck



  • Members
  • Pip
  • 22 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:Ohio, USA
  • Spinal Injury Level:c4/c5 incomplete quad

Posted 05 November 2012 - 07:04 PM

I am a C4-C5 Quadriplegic, considering an Elective Colostomy. The reasons for this are:
  • Length of time to do daily bowel programs.
  • Easier to travel.
  • Hemorrhoid issues.
  • Comfort with the person doing the bowel program.
I have a few questions for someone with a similar SCI level and who has a colostomy.
  • Do you still need to use a "Magic Bullet" or other laxative to get the bowel movement started? If yes, please explain.
  • Do you have to irrigate the colostomy?
  • Can the bowel be trained to move on a schedule?
  • How long does it take to have a bowel movement?
  • What are the possibliities of it filling the bag during the overnight while I sleep?
  • Is it a problem with odor escaping the bag?
  • As for the surgery, risks, problems, recovery time, etc...
  • Is quality of life better with the Colostomy?
  • If you had the chance to do it over again, would you still get the colostomy done?
Thanks, awaiting your responses.


#2 LeviM


    Intermediate Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 353 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:Md, USA
  • Spinal Injury Level:C7 - C8 inc/ Commited
  • Injury Date:20-01-2002

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:53 PM

I'm a bit lower level injury than you but I think I can answer most of your questions.

1. It is possible to have constipation after your colostomy. Some people may require a regular use of oral laxatives or stool softeners to stay moving. I have some other issues going on right now but normally I have to take miralax once a day to keep things moving. Not all people will have constipation as it depends on what type of procedure and which part of the intestines they use to create the stoma. The lower they go when deciding which part of the intestines to use the more formed your out put will be. Please note that your bowels reactions to different foods may be different than before. You will learn what foods set you off and you can then choose whether it's worth it to include them in your diet

2. Irrigation is something that not every person with a colostomy can do. To be clear, not every person with a colostomy is a candidate for irrigation. Irrigation is a personal choice. You are not required to do it but if you prefer to and your doctor clears you then it can have it's advantages.

3. That is a tricky question. First of all most people find that their bowels follow the same type pattern they had pre colostomy after recovery is complete. You will have the best chance of training your bowels to move on schedule if you choose to irrigate. The problem is there's no way for your body to "hold it". If your body needs to go it will go. Irrigation is kinda like an enema and it is done through the stoma. It just stimulates movement. Some people who irrigate still have to wear a bag due to accidents but many people who irrigate can get on a schedule and avoid wearing a bag.

4. Bowel movements post colostomy tend to happen pretty quick. It isn't usually a long drawn out process and chances are you wont even know.

5. It is possible to fill the bag during the night and that result in an accident. I've had my Colostomy since April of this year and I have never had an accident through the night. A lot of people avoid food after a certain time to help limit output during times like sleep. Any accident I have had were my own fault. There have been times when I was trying to move around in bed or getting in and out of my chair that I ripped the bag off by accident. If you have an issue with this there are ostomy belts you can wear to help keep the bag on. There are your normal 1 to 1.5 inch thick belts that attach to your bag or a belt like a Stealth belt pro which conceals your ostomy and its appliance completely.
Here is a link to the stealth belt pro in case you're interested. http://stores.intuit.../Categories.bok

It is pricey but has been well worth the price paid for me personally. The stealth belt pro is hand made and is custom to your measurements and you can even choose the color or pattern.

6. If a person has issues with odor escaping the bag there is a breach in the seal of the wafer/flange which is the base of the appliance that goes directly around the stoma. That means the wafer isn't stuck well to the skin around the stoma and it's allowing air or content from inside to leak out from underneath the wafer/flange. Gas can and will build up inside the bag so you will have to burp the bag to let the air out from time to time but you can usually pick an appropriate time and place for that. There are also bags that have charcole filters built into that allow air from inside the bag to escape without there being any odor.

As far as the odor of your output when changing the bag there are products you can use to help cut down on that. Liquids that you can put into the bag that help kill bacteria as well as lubricate the inside of the bag so output can move to the bottom of the bag more easily.

7. As far as complications during and after surgery go, many things can factor in. You overall health is a good indicator of how things will go but there can sometimes be surgery complications that result in near by organs being damaged. There can be infection, skin problems around the stoma, blood clots, pneumonia bowel obstructions etc. If your surgeon thinks you're a high risk for serious complications he won't likely perform the surgery. It is important to choose your surgeon carefully as not all surgeons are created equally. It's a good idea to make sure your surgeon has plenty of experience with colo rectal surgeries. It is also a good decision to find a surgeon that has experience with the laparoscopic procedures as the recovery time and complication rate drops dramatically when laparoscopic is chosen over an open procedure.

I had my colostomy done with a Laparoscopic procedure. Many people can go back to normal activities fairly quickly but many spend the first 2-3 weeks adjusting and recovering from the procedure itself. It took me a couple months to get through the worst of the recovery but I ended up with pneumonia twice back to back after my surgery. I have some extensive lung issues so this increased my chance for complications.

Post surgery there are a few things you'll need to be mindful of. Parastomal hernias can play havoc really fast if you don't know how to protect yourself. Wearing a hernia belt the first few months after surgery can help a lot to prevent them. Learning how to cough/sneeze and get around the first few months can help cut your risk of a hernia down although the risk of hernia development is high for most people because the colostomy itself sets up a weak spot within your abdominal muscles. Having had pneumonia twice in a row after my colostomy was done I spent a lot of time coughing and this was a big part of why I developed a hernia which had to be repaired two weeks ago. It is important to note that not all parastomal hernias will require surgical repair.

8. Yes yes yes, Having a Colostomy has made my life much easier. Trying to maintain a bowel program is a lot easier now. I still have issues with constipation but I find it much easier to keep things moving now.

9. Yes, Despite the fact I have had complications during the original surgery to create my stoma and even the hernia and the repair of it I would do it again 10 times over.

Edited by LeviM, 05 November 2012 - 11:59 PM.

#3 scott73



  • Members
  • Pip
  • 56 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:United States
  • Spinal Injury Level:C6-7 Incomplete
  • Injury Date:07-12-1988

Posted 10 November 2012 - 05:45 AM

Great post. I'm the guy who has the thread - My colostomy journey starts here. No issues here. I always ask myself - How can I love having a colostomy? But, I DO, I DO. I DO!!!!!! No more Bowel programs and sooooooooooooooooo much freedom!

#4 saradise



  • Members
  • Pip
  • 49 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Country:Florida
  • Spinal Injury Level:c2-c7

Posted 10 November 2012 - 05:07 PM

My husband just got a colostomy back in May and we LOVE it!!!! At first, I was soooo hesitant! The thought of it disgusted me and was just so weird to me. Now, we will never go back to our old bowel program!!

1. No laxatives, no magic bullet or Enemeez - nothing anymore!!!!! Absolutely nothing.
2. No irrigation. I forget why people irrigate, I just know it is not needed in my husband's situation.
3. I don't know about training it to move on schedule, but my husband has started noticing that he tends to go at the same time every day. Medicare pays for him to have a bag a day, so he changes his bags pretty often. It hasn't been very noticeable under his shirts either.
4. My husband pretty much just goes at anytime.
5. For my husband, he goes a little bit every couple of hours. He has no problem at night time. The bags can hold quite a bit. So, if he does go, there is always still plenty of room in the bag for more.
6. No odor problems. The bags come with vents on them which helps with the odor. The ONLY time he has odor is if something is wrong with the flange. (if it's coming unstuck from the skin etc.) We only had a problem once or twice in the beginning when we were first learning. Now, he doesn't have any problems with odor or the flange.
7. Surgery. This surgery can be reversed at anytime in your life. From what I remember, it is a fairly simple procedure with low risks. My husband didn't have any problems.
8. YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!! Like I said, the first thought of it was so weird to me. I hated the idea of it!! We debated it for a long time, but then due to a wound very near the anus, we were left with no choice, but to do it. I absolutely love it!!!! Before = we had to spend every other night with him down in bed on his side for about an hour, while I did his bowel program, which took time out of our day. If we were out with friends etc on a certain day, we would have to always be back home by our scheduled time to do the program. If we were traveling and sharing a hotel room, we would have to ask our friend to leave the room while we did the program. So, many inconveniences from before. NOW = my husband handles his own bowel care. It is soooo easy! When he feels the need, he just changes his bag. I still assist him with changing the dressing every 7 days because I like doing it. It's really simple too. Our life is VERY much better thanks to this colostomy bag. It really is just so simple to manage and no more laxatives and time taken away to do the "nasty" job!
9. If I had known how much we would love this thing, we would have done it a LONG time ago!!!!!

If you have any other questions, please feel free to pm me. :)

I posted my response and then went back and saw what LeviM posted.....so funny that we had a lot of the same answers!

Just wanted to add one more thing..... a lot of times, my husband changes his bag right before bed. So, there's a full bag for the night. Each person figures out what works best for them, but having the colostomy has really been wonderful!

Edited by saradise, 10 November 2012 - 05:08 PM.

#5 John1967



  • Members
  • Pip
  • 33 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:United States
  • Spinal Injury Level:c5
  • Injury Date:22-08-1986

Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:37 PM

thank you for all the great information about the colostomy procedures

Spinal Cord Injury & Cauda Equina Syndrome Support

This website is a way for those with spinal cord injuries and cauda equina syndrome to share experiences and advice. Any medical matters, treatments or alternative therapies discussed on this website should be thoroughly reviewed by a medical professional or therapist before being acted upon. Under no circumstances should you alter prescribed medication or a medical care plan without consulting your doctor or care plan supervisor first.