What to Expect Before Ostomy Surgery

A doctor and patient before ostomy surgery

To help prepare you for your experience with your ostomy surgery, our wound, ostomy and continence nurse (WOC nurse), Cheryl Hutton, has laid out the process you can expect and included helpful tips for making the best of your surgery and stay at the hospital.

Your Preoperative Assessment

Depending on your hospital, you will probably be offered a pre-op assessment a few days/weeks prior to your ostomy surgery.

This assessment will involve a meeting with your surgeon to discuss any last-minute concerns regarding your upcoming surgery, discuss the risks and make sure you fully understand the procedure and sign the consent forms. You may also meet the anesthetist to discuss your options for post-surgery pain management.

A technician or nurse will take some blood to check that you are physically well for surgery and an electrocardiogram (ECG) may be performed to check your heart rhythm. This is a simple and painless test that involves having little sticky sensors placed at various pulse points on your chest, arms and legs. These sensors then record your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.

They may also give you a combination of laxatives to take home in order to clear the bowel the day prior to your surgery. The exact preoperative bowel preparation will be up to your surgeon. He or she will be able to advise you on whether preparing the bowel in this way is best for you prior to your ostomy surgery.

Marking Your Stoma Site

Either during your preoperative assessment or on the day of surgery itself, your stoma nurse or a WOC nurse will examine your abdomen and mark in ink the best position for your stoma.

Usually, a colostomy will be sited on the left-hand side of your abdomen and an ileostomy/urostomy located on the right-hand side of your abdomen. Your nurse may ask you some questions such as what type of clothing you generally wear and choose a site where the skin is smooth, without dips or creases to make placing pouches on the skin as trouble free as possible.

The Day Before Surgery

The day before the ostomy surgery you will need to follow your bowel preparation instructions if they have been provided. You also need to refrain from eating and drinking overnight or several hours before surgery. The hospital will confirm the exact requirements.

What to Take with You to The Hospital

There are several items I recommend you take to the hospital to help make your stay more comfortable:

  • Robe
  • Selection of books and magazines
  • A tablet or music device
  • Headphones
  • Slippers
  • Earplugs (There are helpful if you are a light sleeper.)

Remember to also take any medication that you take regularly in its original container. You should not take medication from home while in the hospital, but your care team needs to identify home medications you use.

Day of Surgery

On the day of your ostomy surgery, your doctor may ask you to shower with a special shower gel that cleans your skin. Then, they will provide you with a hospital gown and compression stockings to change into.

You will be asked to remove all loose accessories and other items prior to surgery:

  • All makeup
  • Nail polish
  • Jewelry
  • Dentures
  • Glasses
  • Contact lenses
  • Hearing aids

Finally, you will be transported to the preoperative area and are all set for your surgery.

For more ostomy support visit https://www.chcsolutions.com/continuum_connect/ostomy/ostomy-virtual-support/.

*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.