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Colorectal Cancer: Ostomy

The Stoma

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  • The stoma is swollen initially after surgery. It will shrink to its true size in 6 to 8 weeks.
  • There is no feeling in the stoma. It does not sense pain or the passage of waste.
  • Properly fitting pouches are essential to prevent leakage of stool around the stoma which can irritate the surrounding skin. There should be a distance of l/8th inch between the stoma and the opening of the ostomy appliance
  • The stoma itself does not need to be cleaned. It is self cleaning. However, the skin around the stoma must be protected from:
  • Bacteria and intestinal digestive enzymes which can break down skin, which is then likely to be infected by fecal bacteria. (The bacteria and enzymes are good when inside your system. They are not good for skin.)
  • Scratches or scrapes which can occur from ostomy attachments and which can become infected.
  • Check the stoma every time that you change the appliance. The color should be beefy red. The stoma should be moist.
    • Never irrigate your stoma with water you wouldn’t put into your mouth.
    • Contact your surgeon or ET nurse if your stoma bleeds excessively, has a black color, is swollen or recedes, or has a strong, lasting odor, or if there are changes in body waste or minor skin irritations that last more than a few days.

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