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Discharge Instructions for Colostomy

You just underwent a procedure that required a colostomy. This procedure involves removing or disconnecting part of your colon (large intestine). If your large intestine was diseased, your doctor may have removed it. If it was injured, your doctor may have disconnected it for a short time so that it can heal. After it heals, your doctor may reconnect it. During a colostomy formation, your doctor reroutes your colon through your abdominal wall. Stool and mucus can then pass out of your body through this opening, called a stoma. The following are general guidelines for home care following a colostomy. Your doctor and nurse will go over any information that is specific to your condition.

Home Care

  • Take care of your stoma as directed. Your doctor and ostomy nurse discussed how to do this with you before you left the hospital.

  • Ask your doctor or ostomy nurse for a patient education sheet about colostomy care before you leave the hospital. This will help remind you how to care for yourself.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds until your doctor says it is OK.

  • Don’t drive until after your first doctor’s appointment after your surgery.

  • If you ride in a car for more than short trips, stop frequently to stretch your legs.

  • Ask your doctor when you can expect to return to work. Most patients are able to return to work within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

  • Increase your activity gradually. Take short walks on a level surface.

  • Wash your incision site with soap and water and pat it dry.

  • Check your incision every day for redness, drainage, swelling, or separation of the skin.

  • Take your medications exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Don’t take any over-the-counter medication unless your doctor tells you to do so.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Excessive bleeding from your stoma

  • Blood in your stool

  • Stool that is very hard

  • No gas or stool

  • Change in the color of your stoma

  • Bulging skin around your stoma

  • A stoma that looks like it’s getting longer

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or chills

  • Redness, swelling, bleeding, or drainage from your incision

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Increased pain in the belly or around the stoma


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