Irrigation is for people with a sigmoid or descending colostomy. It is one option for the management and care of your colostomy.
Irrigation is basically like giving yourself an enema through your stoma. It stimulates your bowel to expel stool and empty the colon so that no stool will pass through the stoma for a period of time (often at least a day). Check with your doctor or Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy & Continence (NSWOC) before irrigating.
- No stool passed during the day except during irrigation (some people only irrigate every 2 days)
- Smaller pouching system: some people use a stoma cap or bandaid over the stoma between irrigations
- Less gas as the colon is being emptied regularly
- Lower pouching costs for some
- Time commitment: about 1 hour every other day
- Routine: irrigation is more successful if it is done at the same time each day
- Irrigation may be not be appropriate for people who are uncomfortable handling their stool or touching their stoma
Good resources to review
Our NSWOCs are happy to talk to you more about irrigation if you think it may work for you.