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Open Colostomy Reversal


Open colostomy reversal is surgery to close your colostomy and reconnect your colon.


The week before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • You may need to have an EKG, or blood or urine tests. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • Follow the directions your healthcare provider gives you to prepare your bowels for surgery. You may be told to drink only clear fluids and to eat no solid foods for a few days before surgery. Clear liquids include water, broth, apple juice, or lemon-lime soft drinks. You may also suck on ice chips or eat gelatin. You may need to drink a special fluid or take medicine to empty your bowels the day before your surgery.

The night before your surgery:

  • You may need to check into the hospital the night before your surgery. You may be given medicine or an enema to help empty your bowels. An enema is liquid medicine put into your rectum to prepare your bowels for surgery.
  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
  • You may get antibiotics before your surgery to help prevent an infection caused by bacteria. You may also get antibiotics during and after your surgery.


What will happen:

  • Your healthcare provider will make an incision in the middle of your abdomen and around your colostomy. He may cut along the same incision that was used when you received a colostomy. Your healthcare provider will cut away your colostomy from the skin. He will reconnect the cut ends to the rest of your colon with staples or stitches.
  • Your healthcare provider may put 1 or 2 drains under the skin near your surgery area. These drains may help your surgery wound heal. The drains will be removed when your wound stops draining fluid. The cut in the middle of your abdomen will be stitched or stapled closed. The area where your colostomy was may be stitched or stapled closed. The area may also be left open to heal. If it is left open, the area will be filled with gauze. Bandages will be placed on your wounds to keep them dry and to help prevent infection.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will watch you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room. You may have a plastic tube coming from your nose. This tube helps keep your stomach empty while your bowels start to work again after surgery. Do not remove this tube. The bandage covering your incision helps keep it clean and dry to prevent infection. A healthcare provider may remove the bandage soon after surgery to check your wound.


  • You cannot make it to your surgery.
  • You have nausea, or you start vomiting during your bowel preparation.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You feel lightheaded during your bowel preparation. This may happen when you get up from lying down.
  • Your vomit or bowel movements look black, or you see blood in them.


  • You may bleed more than expected during or after your surgery. There is a chance your ureters, bladder, or bowels may be damaged during the surgery. Your healthcare provider may not be able to reconnect your colon. If this happens, you will need to keep your colostomy. After surgery, you may have fever, pain, nausea, or vomiting. You may get an infection of the skin and other tissue around your wounds. Your colon may leak or pull apart around the area where it was put back together. This can cause a serious infection.
  • Your intestines may become narrow or blocked after surgery. You could get a painful hernia, months or years after surgery. A hernia is a hole in the muscles of your abdomen letting your intestines push against your skin. You may need another surgery to fix these problems. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs.
  • You are at risk for skin damage around your stoma. You may get an itchy rash, and your skin may become red, swollen, and sore.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.