Colostomy irrigation

Irrigation is for people with a sigmoid or descending colostomy.  It is one option for the management and care of your colostomy.

Irrigation involves instilling water through the stoma, which stimulates the bowel to expel stool. After irrigation, there is a period of time (usually one to two days) where no stool passes. 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.