Common Reasons for a Colostomy

There are many reasons a person may need a colostomy that range from trauma to debilitating illnesses. Explore the most common reasons people get colostomies. 

Essential Facts about Your Colostomy

Learn about the conditions that may require a colostomy.

There are many medical reasons that your doctor or surgeon may recommend a colostomy, but they all have one thing in common – your colon cannot eliminate stool normally through the rectum. This may be because of an illness or an injury. 

You’re not alone

During colostomy surgery, a stoma is created to remove or bypass an injured or diseased part of the colon.  A colostomy is usually considered the best option only after other treatment options have been considered. Exceptions include life-threatening trauma injuries or infection, which may require immediate attention. Many people seek a second opinion before having this life-changing procedure.

However, if your healthcare providers have all come to the same conclusion – that a colostomy is your best course of action – you’re not alone.  Around the world, tens of thousands of people of all ages – from newly born to elderly – undergo ostomy surgery each year.

Why do I need a colostomy?

Below is a list of some of the more common reasons for colostomy surgery:

  • Cancer: Colorectal cancer may result in part or all of your colon needing to be removed. In the U.S., colorectal cancer is the fourth most common malignancy. A colostomy may be done as part of a surgery to treat the cancer.
  • Diverticular disease: In cases where there are severe pockets of inflammation in your colon that require urgent attention, a colostomy may be needed. In emergencies where there is infection, this can be a life-saving procedure.
  • Trauma: The colon is the second most commonly injured organ in penetrating trauma. A colostomy is often performed when the injured portion of the colon must be removed.
  • Congenital (present at birth): A colostomy may be needed for certain birth defects, such as an imperforate anus. This is a malformation of the anus or rectum. Spina bifida may also require a colostomy. 
  • Bowel Incontinence: When more non-invasive treatments don’t succeed in the patient being able to control their bowel movements, a colostomy may be needed. 

Whatever your reason for needing a colostomy, it’s important to talk to your healthcare team so you can get as much information about your specific condition and why the surgery is your best option. They can answer your questions and address your concerns.