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What Is Ostomy Wound Management?

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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Ostomy wound management is the process of caring for one's ostomy site. An ostomy is the result of a colostomy, a surgical procedure to create an opening in the abdomen for solid waste elimination. As the ostomy site is an open wound, the primary purpose of ostomy wound management is to prevent infection. A patient must follow a cleaning routine to keep the site healthy. If an infection should develop, a patient will need to consult a physician in order to learn how to best resolve the situation.

A colostomy is necessary when a patient, because of a medical condition such as colon or rectal cancer, cannot naturally eliminate feces through the anus. After removing any diseased parts of the colon, a surgeon exposes a short length of healthy large intestine outside the abdomen. This exposed large intestine is known as the stoma, the surrounding area known as the ostomy site. Once a patient has healed, a colostomy bag attached to the stoma collects solid waste; a patient can then live a close to normal life.

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While a patient is still in the hospital after having an colostomy, a physician or nurse will explain what a patient needs to do for ostomy wound management. Management occurs when a patient replaces his or her colostomy bag. At this point, the stoma and ostomy are exposed. Cleaning the site with warm water is the first step. After drying, applying prescription cream to the site prevents infections and keeps the surrounding skin from drying out; the patient is then ready to apply a new colostomy bag.

The most important aspect of ostomy wound management is inspecting the ostomy site for signs of infection or irritation. Irritation presents as dried skin along with some discoloration. An infection can develop on the ostomy and/or stoma. Infection presents as inflammation of tissue and redness. Another sign of an infection is that the area is tender or painful to the touch.

If an infection worsens over the course of one or two days, seeing a physician is the best course of action. A physician can prescribe antibiotics and give advice on how to prevent future infections. The latter may come in the form of informational reading material on ostomy wound management. A patient may wish to consult sources on the Internet as well, such as websites where others living with an ostomy post tips for ostomy wound management.

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