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Dis Colon Rectum. 1996 Nov;39(11):1227-31.

Reversible colostomy--what is the outcome?

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Meath Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.



The trend toward avoidance of a colostomy at both elective and emergency large-bowel surgery is partly driven by the perceived morbidity and low closure rates of temporary stomas. The aim of this study was to examine whether significant colostomy-related morbidity remains persistently high.


To examine this, we reviewed 120 patients with a potentially reversible colostomy performed during either elective or emergency large-bowel surgery during a seven-year period.


Forty-seven patients underwent elective and 73 patients underwent emergency colonic or colorectal resection. Fifty-eight patients had colorectal carcinoma (48.3 percent), diverticular disease accounted for 39 patients (32.5 percent), and a miscellaneous group of 23 patients (19.2 percent) made-up the remainder. Seven patients died, all in the emergency group (9.6 percent). Colostomy-related morbidity, which included stenosis, retraction, prolapse, and hernia formation, occurred in 19.2 percent of patients, with no difference between the elective (14.9 percent) and emergency (21.9 percent) groups or underlying pathologic condition. Colostomy closure was performed initially in 71 patients (59.2 percent). Highest closure rates occurred in the diverticular group (84.6 percent), followed by the colorectal carcinoma group (48.3 percent), and then the miscellaneous group (43.5 percent). One patient died undergoing colostomy closure, and complications occurred in 25 patients (35.2 percent), requiring fashioning of a second colostomy in eight patients, two of whom were closed. Final colostomy closure rate was 54.2 percent.


This study confirms the contention that both formation and closure of defunctioning colostomies are associated with significant complications; furthermore, approximately one-half of patients will not have their colostomy closed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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