Colostomy Reversal Surgery: Procedure, Purpose and Possible Complications

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A colostomy reversal, also referred to as a laparoscopic colostomy reversal, is a surgical procedure in which the large intestine (colon) and rectum are reconnected after a prior colostomy. A colostomy is defined as an opening in the stomach in which a bag is placed to drain bowel movements. This procedure is fairly common and most patients experience an improved quality of life after having it performed.

Purpose of This Procedure

The purpose of this surgical procedure is to restore the function and appearance of the patient’s intestine, abdomen and rectum. This surgery allows the patient to live without having the colostomy bag attached to the stomach. Many patients who have this surgery are able to have normal bowel movements again that pass through the anus.

Procedure Description

To prepare for the procedure patient’s will consume a medicine that helps to flush out bowels because they must be empty for the procedure. The patient will then need to change into a hospital gown and will have an IV placed into a vein in their arm. Then the anesthesiologist will administer general anesthesia so that the patient is asleep. The surgeon will make two to five small incisions. These incisions are made so that any necessary surgical instruments and the laparoscope can be passed through. The patient’s abdominal wall will then be lifted from the internal organs by being filled with carbon dioxide. The rectum and colon will then be reconnected with a stapling device that is inserted into the anus and colostomy opening. Once the surgery is complete the incisions will be stitched closed and wrapped with bandages.

Possible Complications

A colostomy reversal can present certain complications. Typical surgical complications may occur such as adverse or allergic reactions to the anesthesia or other medications used or infection. Other complications that may occur include inability to drink or eat, blood during bowel movements, less frequent urination or absence of urination, having bowel movements more frequently than before surgery, hard or tender abdomen and absence of bowel movements for more than two days.


Patients who have this surgery often find that it greatly improves their quality of life. Though complications can occur they tend not to occur often and most patients recover well. The majority of patients can go on living without needing a bag and after they recover they find that they are easily able to eat, drink and pass regular bowel movements.


Drugs/WebMD. (2009). Laparoscopic Colostomy Reversal. Retrieved on August 27, 2009 from Website: