Colostomy is a complex surgical procedure that has an adverse affect on a child’s life when it is needed. If your child has been recommended for a colostomy procedure, it is important to become familiar with not only the positive aspects of the procedure, but also the risks and complications that may arise.
For children who require a colostomy, the decision to perform such a surgery does not come easily. In most cases, the procedure only comes after prolonged complications with gastrointestinal health. While you are most likely trying to prepare for the emotional impact of the colostomy in your child, be sure to also become familiar with the long term risks and the short term complications that may arise after surgery.
As with any type of aggressive invasive surgical procedure, the immediate complications after a colostomy procedure will include infection at the surgical site, complications with excessive bleeding, the risk for developing pneumonia, and even the risk that your child may develop a pulmonary embolism.
If, after the colostomy procedure, your child begins to experience any adverse health symptoms, it is important to contact your pediatric surgeon immediately. Without prompt medical attention, when the complication is severe, there could be life threatening complications. Once your child is home, if complications of fever, an increase in swelling or redness at the surgical site, dizziness, or even complications with vomiting or nausea develop, your doctor must be notified.
In very rare cases, death following a colostomy can occur and typically this is due to a lack of enough blood to the tissue in and around the surgical site. Because this degree of complication normally develops within 24 hours of surgery, your child often will be kept in the hospital until they are cleared of advanced health risks. Even still, if your child develops any unusual symptoms after returning home from colostomy surgery, your doctor should be consulted to determine if a complication has arisen.
While colostomy can be an emotionally traumatic condition, it is possible for a child to live a relatively normal life with the colostomy bag in place. The greatest risk to your child, physically, comes with the degree of complications in the days and weeks after surgery. To negate this risk, be sure to monitor all symptoms in a log book, everyday, for the two to three months after colostomy surgery to be sure that your doctor is well versed in what changes have occurred.
Sources: The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, vol. 2, 3rd Ed., pp. 948-949.