What is irrigation?
Irrigation is a water enema. To irrigate requires the stool to be comparatively firm. Therefore only people with a colostomy whose ostomy is placed in the descending section of the colon (descendens or sigmoideum) can use this method.
Can I just perform an irrigation if I want to?
Irrigation should not be learned on ones own but supervised by a competent professional. Training can occur no sooner than 10 days after surgery. Irrigation should be scheduled as a regular routine every 48 hours, and is therefore not a procedure to be performed occasionally. Occasional irrigation will result in a risk of diarrhoea – this is also the case if irrigation is used as an enema in constipation.
How long does it take?
To irrigate takes three quarters of an hour up to an hour, which makes it appropriate to place the irrigation at a time that considers other family members.
What are the pros and cons of irrigation?
The advantages with irrigation can be:
- That you regain some control over the emptying of the bowel
- It is possible to use a smaller form of bandage, i.e. a cap or Minicab, which reduces the risk of skin irritation, and has fewer sound and odour problems when passing wind, which in turn increases comfort, and has fewer psychosocial issues attached to it.
- Vision, learning ability, motor skills, and diseases of the intestine can be cause the need for irrigation
The disadvantages of irrigation are:
- The procedure is rather time consuming 45-60 minutes
- It requires access to a toilet
- You have to do it every time – you cannot just decide to do it occasionally as this can lead to diarrhea.