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When the large bowel or colon is brought through the abdominal wall and empties into a small pouch, we call this a colostomy. This may be performed during an emergency procedure for a perforated or obstructed bowel. In this case, the colostomy may be temporary and reversed with a further surgery. For patients with low or advanced pelvic tumours a colostomy may be permanent.

Patients with a colostomy may eat and drink normally. The colostomy works periodically during the day, and usually produces a solid stool. The colostomy bag is then removed and discarded and a new bag applied. Modern appliances effectively absorb odour and vent gas. Leakage beneath the appliances are relatively uncommon when the appropriate appliances are used.

Patients with colostomies can work, exercise, swim and have normal relationships.

Minor problems with stoma prolapse, parastomal hernias, retraction, stenosis or bleeding can occur and may require corrective surgery.

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