Conservative Measures for Managing Constipation in Patients Living With a Colostomy

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PURPOSE:The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a conservative regimen for the treatment of constipation in persons living with a colostomy.DESIGN:Prospective, noncontrolled, single-center study.SUBJECTS AND SETTING:The study sample comprised 35 patients with a colostomy who were diagnosed with constipation. Subjects with morphologic changes causing constipation such as stomal stenosis and neoplastic and inflammatory changes were excluded. The study was conducted in the Proctology and Stoma Outpatient Clinic at Poznan University of Medical Sciences.METHODS:Patients at our Stoma Outpatient Clinic underwent baseline evaluation, and those with symptoms of constipation (prolonged periods between bowel movements, passage of pasty or hardened fecal effluent, and associated symptoms such as abdominal discomfort or bloating, flatulence, and pain with passage of effluent into the stoma) received individualized dietary recommendations that typically included an increase in dietary fiber and fluid intake, along with increased fluid intake. The outcomes of dietary changes were evaluated during a follow-up visit 3 months later. If dietary changes alone did not improve constipation symptoms, we prescribed a psyllium-based bulk-forming agent, an osmotic stool softener, and a probiotic, with or without a prokinetic agent such as metoclopramide taken 3 times daily.RESULTS:Dietary interventions alone were deemed successful in 60% of study subjects (n = 21); the remaining 14 patients required additional treatment.CONCLUSIONS:Dietary modifications alone relieved constipation in more than half of a group of 35 patients with constipation. We therefore recommend a trial of dietary modifications prior to the initiation of pharmacotherapy in patients with a colostomy.

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