my child has a colostomy

My child has a colostomy

Does your child have a colostomy? We help you understand what a colostomy is and how it changes your child’s body functions so that you can get comfortable caring for your little one.

Your child’s colostomy

If your child has a surgically created opening between the large intestine (the colon) and abdominal wall, it is called a colostomy. Your surgeon, Ostomy Care nurse or Paediatric nurse can help you understand both the reason for your child’s colostomy surgery.

During a colostomy surgery, the end of the large intestine is brought out onto your child’s abdominal surface – this is called the colostomy and will now be the point of exit for your child’s stool.

As a parent, you play an important role in ensuring that the colostomy is well-maintained to ensure proper healing. The following topics are important topics in order to provide the best care for your child.

Ileum (small intestine)
The small bowel is about 4-6 m long and 3 cm wide. It mixes food with digestive juices from the pancreas, liver, and intestine, and push the mixture forward for further digestion in the large intestine. The walls of the small intestine absorb water and digested nutrients into the bloodstream.
Colon (large intestine)
The large intestine absorbs water and changes the remaining stool from liquid into a more firm consistency. Peristalsis - a series of wave-like muscle contractions - help the stool to move further into the rectum.
A colostomy is created from a part of the big bowel and is usually placed on the left hand side of the abdomen.

What is a pouching system?

Since there is no muscle around the ostomy, your child will not be able to control when the stool passes through the ostomy and will, therefore, need to wear an ostomy pouch outside of the body at all times to collect waste. The pouch is held on the body with an adhesive patch called a skin barrier. The barrier has a hole in the middle just large enough for the ostomy. It’s called a “skin barrier” since it not only holds the pouch onto the body, it also protects the skin around the ostomy so that no stool or urine touches the skin.

selecting pouch for your child

A temporary or permanent colostomy?

Depending upon your child’s specific condition, the colostomy can be temporary or permanent. When your child’s ostomy is temporary, is it created as a temporary measure, to allow the intestine a chance to rest and heal after surgery. In this case, the large intestine will eventually be reconnected, and the ostomy closed. When your child’s ostomy is permanent, the large intestine is not reconnected.

applying ostomy pouch to your child

Expect changes in your child’s output

A colostomy usually begins to function about 3-4 days after surgery. Your child’s first output will be somewhat liquid in nature. However, within the next few weeks, the stool may thicken to a soft-formed composition. Depending upon where in the bowel the colostomy is created (beginning, middle or end) will determine how much water is absorbed from the stool and how thin or thick it will be. The further stool travels down the large intestine, the more water is absorbed and the thicker it will become. Even with a colostomy, your child may still have his/her rectum in place and may feel the need to have a bowel movement. This sensation occurs because the intestine continues to produce mucus, which may pass from the rectum. Should this happen to your child, it’s important to remember that it’s completely normal.

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