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Health Information Center

Colostomy / Ileostomy—Child

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Colostomy / Ileostomy—Child


An ostomy is a procedure that connects an internal organ to the surface of the body. An opening called a stoma is made to let waste exit the body and pass into an external bag.

The 2 types of ostomies discussed here include:

  • Colostomy—brings the large intestine to the wall of the belly
  • Ileostomy—brings the small intestine to the wall of the belly

Ostomies can be used for a short or long amount of time. For infants and children they are often used for just a short time.

Reasons for Procedure

The intestines make a path for food to be digested and passed out of the body. An ileostomy or colostomy may be needed if the path through the intestines is interrupted. The interruption may be due to injury or illness of the intestine such as:

A short term ostomy may be done to let the intestine rest after surgery, trauma, or illness.

A permanent ostomy may be needed if:

  • A large area of intestine is removed
  • The remaining lower intestine or rectum cannot be repaired

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your child’s doctor will go over problems that could happen, like:

  • Bad reaction to anesthesia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Skin irritation or scar tissue
  • Infection
  • Wound opening or excess bleeding
  • Hernia at the incision site or the bowel presses out of the stoma
  • Damage to nearby organs
  • Heart attack or blood clots
  • Nutrition problems such as low levels of vitamins

Talk to your child’s doctor about ways to manage things that may raise your child’s risk of problems.

What to Expect

Problems To Look Out For

Call the doctor if your child has:

  • Nausea or vomiting that will not go away
  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Lightheadedness
  • Skin irritation
  • Change in stool texture, black, tarry stools, or blood in stool
  • Not passing any stool
  • Severe belly pain or cramps
  • Change in how your child’s stoma looks, including narrowing or changes in color
  • Bleeding from the stoma opening or in the pouch
  • Blocked or bulging stoma
  • New or unexpected symptoms

If you think your child has an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Prior to Procedure

Your child's surgical team may meet with you to discuss:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies your child may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that your child takes and whether they need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Specialists your child may need to see
  • Tests that will need to be done before surgery




  • Colorectal surgery considerations. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/colorectal-surgery-considerations.
  • Colostomy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/colostomy.
  • For parents of children with ostomies. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/surgery/ostomies/stomas-or-ostomies/for-parents.html.
  • Ostomy surgery of the bowel. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/ostomy-surgery-bowel.
  • Stoma care for children and their families. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital website. Available at: https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/education/stoma-care-for-children-and-their-families.
  • What is a colostomy or ileostomy? American College of Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.facs.org/media/lyag0tu2/your_colostomy_ileostomy.pdf.


  • Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.