Colostomy: A Guide

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Colostomy: A Guide

Colostomy surgery is done for many different diseases and problems. Some colostomies are done because of cancer; others are not. For instance, a child may need one because of a birth defect. Sometimes a colostomy is only needed for a short time, but for some people it is life-long.

For the thousands of people who have serious digestive diseases, a colostomy can be the start of a new and healthier life. If you have had a chronic (long-term) problem or a life-threatening disease like colon cancer, you can look forward to feeling better after you recover from this surgery. You can also look forward to returning to most, if not all of the activities you enjoyed in the past.

This guide will help you better understand colostomy – what it is, why it's needed, how it affects the normal digestive system, and what changes it can bring to a person's life. Many of the terms you will hear from your health care team are used and defined here.


Last Medical Review: 03/17/2011
Last Revised: 03/17/2011