Colostomy: A surgically created opening in the abdomen in which a piece of the colon (large intestine) is brought outside the abdominal wall to create a stoma through which digested food passes into an external pouching system. A colostomy is created when a portion of the colon or rectum is removed due to a disease process or damaged area of the colon.

Temporary colostomy: May be required to give a portion of the bowel a chance to rest and heal. When healing has occurred, the colostomy can be reversed and normal bowel function restored.

Permanent colostomy: May be required when a disease affects the end part of the colon or rectum.

Reasons for surgery: Cancer, diverticulitis, imperforate anus, Hirschsprung’s disease, trauma, other.


A pouching system is usually worn. Pouches are odor free and different manufacturers have disposable or reusable varieties to fit one’s lifestyle. 

Irrigation: Certain people are candidates for learning irrigation techniques that will allow for increased control over the timing of bowel movements. Talk to your doctor to see if you may be a candidate for this practice or read our colostomy guide to learn more about the procedure.

Ostomy or continent diversion surgery can occur at any age and does not lower life expectancy but is the start of a “new normal” life

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Information courtesy of UOAA: