Complications From a Stoma

A stoma is the opening at the surface of the abdomen that allows stool to come out of the body and be discarded through a colostomy pouch. If you have a colostomy pouch you should be aware of the problems that can arise from your stoma. The stoma is similar to an open wound which means that it is easily infected and irritated. If you have a stoma due to a colostomy pouch then here are some of the most common health complications that can arise from it. Usually these problems happen within the first year of getting a colostomy pouch, but it is possible the problems could occur years after your surgery.


Stoma Retraction– A stoma retraction is one of the most common health complications that arise from a colostomy. This is when the height of the stoma can decrease to where it is at skin height or below it. Usually this will happen shortly after you have surgery because the colon takes a while to become active again. Weight gain is also a possible reason for the stoma retraction and it can reverse itself if you lose weight. If your stoma height or shape has changed due to a retraction then you should also change the colostomy pouch to accommodate the stoma.

Peristomal Hernia- A peristomal hernia can also occur which is where part of your colon bulges out into the area around your stoma. If there is pressure applied to the abdomen then this is when you will probably notice if you have a hernia. You might have a hernia and not even know it but if you apply pressure to your abdomen through coughing it will become apparent. It is really difficult to irrigate your colostomy pouch or create a tight seal around the stoma if you have a peristomal hernia. If you have a hernia then you should be fitted with a hernia belt, which will help relieve the pressure around the stoma. It is also important that you change the way your colostomy pouch is mounted so that it can create a tight seal around the stoma. Sometimes surgery might be required in order to repair the hernia and relieve the pressure on the stoma and abdomen.

Prolapse– A prolapse is also another health complication you might encounter as a result of the stoma. The bowel will become longer than it should, which will result in it protruding out of the stoma and rise to the surface of the abdomen. The prolapse could be a result of increased pressure to the abdomen and can become worse if the pressure is not relieved. Sometimes the prolapse can go away by itself but for some people it might require surgery to correct.

Stenosis- A Stenosis is also a problem that people with a stoma might encounter and if it is severe enough, surgery might be required. A stenosis is known as the narrowing of the stoma around the level of the skin and it can either be mild or severe. If you have mild stenosis then you will just hear a lot of sounds coming from your stoma or colostomy. The sounds are usually due to stool or gas being passed into the colostomy pouch from your colon and it often is not too problematic, just sometimes embarrassing. If the stenosis is severe however, a blockage of stool can occur which can create many intestinal problems. If you notice that there seems to be a blockage of stool that is not being passed into your colostomy pouch then you should see a doctor immediately to prevent further complications.

These are just some of the most common problems that arise when you have a stoma as a result of a colostomy pouch. If you notice anything unusual or alarming about your stoma you should contact your doctor immediately. A stoma is a very sensitive part of colostomy pouches and it is crucial that the stoma is in good condition or else problems such as these can occur. These complications from the stoma can occur at any time, even years after your colostomy procedure, and can reoccur at any time. Taking care of your colostomy pouch and the stoma is essential to your overall health and it can prevent many of the complications that often affect the stoma.

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Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.