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Open Colostomy Reversal

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What do I need to know about open colostomy reversal?

Open colostomy reversal is done to reconnect your intestines and remove the stoma.

How do I prepare for my surgery?

  • You may need tests to help your surgeon find any problems with your intestines. The tests may include a barium enema.
  • Follow the directions your surgeon gives you to prepare your bowels for surgery. You may be told to drink only clear liquids 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.
  • 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.
  • If you are not admitted, your surgeon will give instructions. You may be told not to eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery. Tell your surgeon about all your current medicines. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery.

What will happen during my surgery?

  • You will be given anesthesia to keep you asleep and pain-free during your surgery. 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.
  • Your surgeon will make an incision in the middle of your abdomen and around your colostomy. He or she may cut along the same incision that was used when you received a colostomy. Your surgeon will cut away your stoma from the skin. He or she will reconnect the cut ends to the rest of your colon with staples or stitches.
  • Your surgeon may put 1 or 2 drains under the skin near your surgery area to help it heal. The drains will be removed when the area stops draining fluid. The cut in the middle of your abdomen will be stitched or stapled closed. The area where your stoma was may be stitched or stapled closed. The area may also be left open to heal. If it is left open, it will be filled with gauze. Bandages will be placed over the surgical area to keep it dry and to help prevent infection.

What should I expect after my surgery?

  • You will be monitored until you are fully awake. Then you will be taken to your hospital room.
  • You may have a tube that goes into your nose and is guided down to your stomach. This tube helps keep your stomach empty while your bowels start to work again after surgery.
  • Healthcare providers will help you walk around to help your bowels start working and to prevent blood clots. You will walk several times each day while you are in the hospital.

What are the risks of open colostomy reversal?

  • You may bleed more than expected during or after your surgery. Your ureters, bladder, or bowels may be damaged during the surgery. You may develop an infection. Your healthcare provider may not be able to reconnect your colon. If this happens, you will need to keep your colostomy. Your colon may leak or pull apart. Contents of your bowel can leak into your abdomen. This can cause a life-threatening infection.
  • Your intestines may become narrow or blocked after surgery. You could develop a painful hernia months or years after surgery. You may need another surgery to fix these problems. You may develop 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 brain or lungs. This can become life-threatening.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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