Stoma Care: Post-Surgery Complications

The weeks following stoma surgery can be both physically and mentally challenging for ostomy patients. During this period, many ostomates will have anxieties and questions about their new life. It’s up to you, as their stoma care nurse or healthcare practitioner, to provide the right answers and lend an empathetic ear.

Whether the patient’s questions span lifestyle, skin complications, intimacy, or discomfort, familiarising yourself with common concerns will go a long way to helping them feel reassured. To help widen your knowledge of stoma care, we invite you to review the work completed by the Ostomy Forum – a collaboration between 31 experienced Enterostomal Therapy (ET) Nurses on the subject of ostomy surgery and its consequences.

In this guide, we have highlighted several studies to help build upon your understanding of intervention methods and meet any continuing education requirements.

Why are stoma patients still experiencing pain one half year post-surgery?

This study was undertaken by the Dutch/Polish segment of the Ostomy Forum group. The overall aim of the research was to identify and investigate the relationship between physical and psychological factors following stoma formation. Specifically, the workgroup focussed on pain after surgery.

You can find the results of the study in the above link. One of the most surprising findings was that many patients still suffer from pain six months following stoma surgery. Researchers also concluded that the patient’s psychosocial environment influences the experience of pain.

Survey of stoma complications after surgery

The Danish segment of The Ostomy Forum set about documenting the incidence of stoma complications 26 weeks post-surgery. There were 237 patients in total, each of whom were followed by the stoma care nurse four times. The data presented the opportunity to observe complications versus the type of stoma, gender, timescale, and permanent/temporary surgery.

One of the findings in this study suggested that patients with a temporary colostomy – especially females – seem to have the highest rate of stoma complications.

Skin complications after stoma surgery: the importance of close ET-nurse assessment and intervention

Studies indicate that peristomal skin problems affect more than one-third of colostomy patients, and more than two-thirds of ileostomy patients. As such, Norwegian researchers decided to investigate the rate of skin-related complications and when they typically arise.

In outpatient clinics, researchers observed 237 patients using a standardised follow-up form and observation Index. Results showed that the rate of complications increased dramatically in the second period (3-6 weeks), where, on average, 34 percent of all respondents suffered a skin problem.

In the above document, you can find more information about the Norwegian segment’s findings.

Returning to social life: is there any correlation between nurse assessment and patient experience?

Social rehabilitation represents a challenge to both the patient and the ET. To that end, eight countries participated in a study that investigated how psychological factors affect a patient’s ability to return to normal social activities after stoma surgery.

Researchers investigated a series of issues relating to the patients’ psychological and physical health. The aim was to identify reasons that would explain a patient’s social status being assessed by the ET as either problematic or non-problematic.

Recovery after Temporary Ileostomy: Is there a gender perspective?

The Swedish segment of the Ostomy Forum aimed to find out whether there is a difference between females and males in their recovery after surgery with a temporary ileostomy. The study included 221 patients; 26 of whom had a temporary ileostomy.

Results suggest that the awareness of the gender perspective is essential. While many males went back to normal after the last follow-up period, 36% of the female group still experienced social and psychological problems. The key takeaway from this research suggests males recover faster than females after stoma surgery.

History taking form

Over five years, the Ostomy Forum set out to create an International History-Taking and Assessment Form to enable ET nurses to gather complete relevant data. The purpose of such a form is to identify the short- and long-term consequences of ostomy surgery. By using the above History-Taking form, you can help recommend improvements and provide appropriate intervention.

We hope you find this form helpful in improving the lives of your patients in the days and weeks after ostomy surgery. You can find more case studies, evaluations, and resources in the Professional Care section of the Dansac website.