Irrigation for your colostomy involves you using water to empty out the colon at specific times of the day. The water will stimulate your bowels to keep them nice and empty.
A colostomy is when you open your colon or large intestine, which is then pulled to the surface near your abdomen so that the stool and waste gets properly emptied a stoma pouch, and from there, instead of going to the rectum and then leaving the anus, it’s then irrigated from the colon out of the stoma in a special period of time.
The cool thing about this is that you don’t need to wear an ostomy pouch in some cases.
Usually, the irrigation is instilled with measuring of 500-1500 MLs of warm water directly into the colon. You instill this in order to stimulate the bowel movements, causing the colon to contract, which is peristaltic action, and as a result it’ll push the contents to the outside world from the last portion of your bowel.
The effect of this is that the stool is only passed during irrigation, which gives control to the person who will empty this, and it’s good because you don’t have to wear a bag.
Irrigation has to happen at least 6-8 weeks for the bowel to become properly regulated like this, so you can create a routine and from there irrigate at certain points of the day.
The colon can also be trained for emptying with minimum stool spillage in between these irrigations, and it also helps with constipation.
Who is Suitable For These
Those who have permanent colostomies that are either sigmoid or descending, and who had regular bowel movements before the colostomy can do this.
The stoma also needs to be normal, semi-formed, or formed stool as well in order to properly irrigate this.
You also may need to have good eyesight and dexterity because you need specific equipment to do this, and you can only do this 2-3 months after your bowel surgery to feel well after this.
Irrigation is safe for a lot of people, and you can talk to your nurse if you think that it’s good for you.
Who Can’t get it.
Those with ulcerative colitis, or diverticulitis and typically have diarrhea won’t benefit from this.
It also can’t be done if you suffer from heart and kidney issues, have complications with absorbing fluid, or if you have chemotherapy or radiotherapy. If you have a stoma that’s tightened, prolapsed, or herniated, this also may not be recommended, since it’s hard to properly do this.
Benefits and Drawbacks
There are plenty of benefits that come with stoma irrigation.
Some of them include:
- Better bowel function
- Better confidence in relationships since you don’t have to wear the bag
- Help with gas and wind
- You can wear the cap which is much more discreet
- Better if you don’t want to carry supplies everywhere
- Allow for a more relaxed diet
- A more regular series of bowel movements.
The disadvantages of this do include a few things, such as:
- You have to commit to the time necessary to learn how to do the irrigation
- It can take a long time, sometimes up to an hour, before everything is properly irrigated
- If you have illness, an upset stomach, or a hospital stay it’s not recommended
Stoma irrigation is a good way to build confidence, and while it is a lengthy process, it’s a good way to make sure that the stoma is properly cleaned for long-term use too.