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What Is a Loop Ostomy?

By T. Broderick
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A loop ostomy is a surgical alternative to traditional colostomy. The surgery is performed when it is certain that the patient will eventually not need an ostomy to eliminate solid waste. The final result is that a patient has two stomas instead of one; each stoma has a different purpose. As the large intestine is not severed to create a stoma, reversal surgery is not as difficult as a traditional colostomy.

A colostomy and loop ostomy have the same purpose: creating an artificial opening from which a patient can eliminate solid waste. For example, when a patient has colon cancer and has several feet or meter of colon removed as a result, a colostomy is an irreversible procedure. Yet for other patients whose colons will be able to process solid waste at some point in the future, a loop ostomy is the preferred procedure.

The most important difference between a colostomy and a loop ostomy is that a loop ostomy creates two stomas, artificial openings in the portion of large intestine exposed outside of the body. This result is achieved by pulling a section of healthy colon outside the body. A plastic rod underneath the exposed colon creates a loop, and the area beneath the loop is closed through stitching. Stomas are created on either sides of the intestinal loop. Each stoma has a unique purpose.

In a loop ostomy, the anterior stoma is responsible for eliminating solid waste while the posterior stoma eliminates mucus that would otherwise fill the dormant part of large intestine. Both waste products are collected in a colostomy bag. Due to the size of the stomas, a patient requires specialized colostomy bags.

Besides using modified colostomy bags, ostomy wound management is different for individuals with a loop ostomy. The presence of two stomas and a large ostomy increase the chances of infection, inflammation and irritation. It is necessary that a patient practice diligent self-care strategies to prevent these complications from occurring. If any of these complications should occur and not subside within a day, consulting a physician is advised.

Reversing a loop ostomy is easier than reversing a colostomy. This is due to the fact that the large intestine is not severed during the creation of a stoma. A surgeon sutures the two stomas closed before putting the section of large intestine back into the body. Like with a regular colostomy reversal surgery, a patient needs to spend a few days in the hospital to recover. Having a normal bowel movement is a sign that the patient's large intestine has recovered and that he or she is ready to return home.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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