Poop Discharge 5 Years Post-Colostomy: Common and Non-Leakage Related

Aug 31, 2018 6:33 pm

Five years ago, I had a colostomy because my rectum had been damaged by radiation treatment for rectal cancer: the sphincters would not close, blood and poop came out uncontrollably. I was happy to have my rectum disconnected from my digestive system. I continue to lose blood and mucus from my rectum on a daily basis, but I can manage this by wearing a pantyliner in my underpants. (I also take a daily iron pill.)

Then two weeks ago, I started to have a smelly, brown discharge which poured out of my rectum for two days before it stopped. Today, my colostomy surgeon did a sigmoidoscopy to see if there was any leakage from the colostomy. Fortunately, it is okay. He said the smelly, brown discharge was from poop coming out of my rectum and that I still have some poop up there--five years after the colostomy. He said it was nothing to worry about.

I wanted to share this with the group because I had been very worried when it happened to me. Now I know this kind of thing is not that unusual and didn't mean there was leakage from my colostomy.

Shitt Happens
Sep 01, 2018 1:53 am

French to English translation, thank you :)

So if I understand correctly, you still have your rectum and your anus?

Why did the doctor not remove the rectum and close it like me?

And is it possible to have bowel leaks when you have no more rectum and anus?

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Sep 01, 2018 2:39 am

When I had my colostomy in San Diego, my Kaiser surgeon just cut the colon off from the rectum and connected the colon to a hole in my abdomen (the stoma). He did nothing to the rectum. Maybe colostomies are performed differently elsewhere, or maybe other people need to have their rectum closed. All I know is that my rectum is still open and draining. I understand why I continue to bleed because of the radiation damage, but I don't understand why there is still some poop in my rectum after five years, but there is. When he checked my rectum today, he just wanted to be sure there wasn't a fistula causing a leak from my functioning colon into my rectum. Fortunately, there was no fistula.

Sep 01, 2018 6:25 am

Interesting! This type of discharge is usually caused by a build-up of mucus, which, if it's mixed with (old) blood will probably look brownish in colour. It is also likely to smell foul for two reasons: the first is that it has often been up there for a while, the second is that it can pick up smell from anal glands as it passes through the anus. It may be that your surgeon calls it 'poop' simply because the discharge is from your anus. I'm glad to hear that you have had it chaecked out and that there are no great concerns in this regard.

Best wishes. Bill

Sep 01, 2018 4:23 pm

Thanks, Bill. What you say makes sense, particularly as I am still bleeding from the damage caused by radiation therapy almost thirty years ago. And when my doc says I still have some poop left up there, it may be just some more old blood. Thanks for your insight. Ann

Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Sep 02, 2018 3:34 am

Hi Ann, I have had my ileostomy for more than 50 years (for ulcerative colitis). What I didn't know was that there was trouble during surgery, and although they did the ileostomy, they left the diseased colon/rectum in. Thinking that the "diseased colon was out," you can imagine my surprise when both poop and blood started coming out about a month later (I was still in the hospital). 3 months later, I had the diseased colon removed, but the doctors left the rectum, hoping that it would heal. He envisioned a time in the future when they'd be doing reconnections, but when the rectum didn't heal after 4 years (I was 19), I insisted that it be removed. Removal of the rectum can be a radical surgery, sometimes with complications, so if it's not diseased, sometimes the doctors just leave it there. But I can't imagine that "poop" would stay up there for so many years and not cause problems (infection?). If they/you wanted to get cleaned out, they could do a series of "enemas," and if you're truly impacted (with poop), that should show up on an x-ray. Fast forward about 25 years... my mother needed a colostomy due to a recurrence of uterine cancer that had spread to her colon. We all knew she was ultimately dying from the cancer (she didn't know), but we were all surprised when "poop" started to drain from her vagina. The cancer had eaten its way through the colon walls, and there was nothing more to do for her since the "end" was very near. Even though your doctor thinks that the poop is from the isolated colon, I would still get another opinion. I had UC... my husband had Crohn's, and my two sons have inflammatory bowel disease. Medical diagnosis is not always accurate, so if you have concerns, please be your own advocate. I can't tell you how many times I questioned the doctors and insisted on further testing... to make knowledgeable decisions.

I'm not trying to scare you... but wanted to share my 50+ years of experience... As I told one doctor, it's my time, my money, and my child. Do the test again!!! Not everyone liked me... but sometimes, I was intuitively right. Don't let yourself be intimidated. Best of luck. Marsha

Sep 02, 2018 4:11 pm

Hi Marsha: Thanks for sharing your story with me/us. I totally agree with you about having to be my own advocate and not blindly going along with what doctors say. In this case, after reading what Bill said (see above), I think Bill is right and my "poop" is really old blood from the damage caused by the radiation treatment. However, I now know my doc can always do another sigmoidoscopy to check whether there is leakage from my colon.

Thanks again for your support.

Best of luck to you, too.