Skip to content

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Colostomy Irrigation

A colostomy is an opening -- called a stoma -- that connects the colon to the surface of the abdomen. This provides a new path for waste material and gas to leave the body after part of the colon or rectum is removed because of disease or injury.

Colostomy irrigation is a way to regulate bowel movements by emptying the colon at a scheduled time. The process involves infusing water into the colon through the stoma. This stimulates the colon to empty. By repeating this process regularly -- once a day or once every second day -- the colon can be trained to empty with no spillage of waste in between irrigation. Colostomy irrigation also can help you avoid constipation.

Recommended Related to Colorectal Cancer

Sigmoidoscopy for Colorectal Cancer Screening

Sigmoidoscopy (SIG-moy-DAH-skuh-pee) enables the physician to look at the inside of the large intestine from the rectum through the last part of the colon, called the sigmoid colon. Physicians may use this procedure to find the cause of diarrhea, abdominal pain, or constipation. They also use sigmoidoscopy to look for early signs of colorectal cancer in the colon and rectum. With sigmoidoscopy, the physician can see bleeding, inflammation, abnormal growths, and ulcers. For the procedure, you will...

Read the Sigmoidoscopy for Colorectal Cancer Screening article > >

Colostomy irrigation is a personal decision. If you are a candidate (see below), your doctor or a nurse who is specially trained to help people with colostomies, will discuss this option with you while you are still in the hospital after your surgery.

Who Is a Candidate for Colostomy Irrigation?

Patients with permanent colostomies and whose opening is in the descending or sigmoid portion of the colon are good candidates for irrigation. This is because their stools tend to be more formed. People with irritable bowel syndrome, stomal problems, or stomas in the ascending or transverse colons are less likely to have success with irrigation and are, therefore, not good candidates for colostomy irrigation.

When Is Colostomy Irrigation Done?

Colostomy irrigation is most effective when it is done about one hour after a meal, when the colon is most likely to be full. Irrigation may be done once a day or once every other day depending on your preference and ability to regulate your bowel movements. It generally takes about six weeks to eight weeks for the bowel to become regulated with irrigation. It is important to establish a routine and irrigate at the same time each day.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on July 27, 2014

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
 
bread
ARTICLE
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
VIDEO
 
New Colorectal Treatments
VIDEO
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
FEATURE
 
Cancer Facts Quiz
QUIZ
Virtual Colonoscopy
VIDEO
 
Picture of the Colon
ANATOMY
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW