Volume 43 Number 3

Contributions of irrigation for continence in permanent colostomy: a case study

Ayişe Karadağ, Havanur Kılıç

Keywords Colostomy, quality of life, irrigation, peristomal skin complications, cost analysis

For referencing Karadağ A & Kılıç H. Contribution of irrigation for continence in permanent colostomy: a case study. WCET® Journal 2023;43(3):30-35.

DOI https://doi.org/10.33235/wcet.43.3.30-35
Submitted 8 April 2023 Accepted 6 June 2023






Bowel management in the person with a permanent colostomy is important and the burden of continuous use of bags and adapters (base plates / skin barriers) on health care costs and the environment is known. When applied regularly, colostomy irrigation (CI) contributes to improving the quality of life (QOL) of the individual with a permanent colostomy by enabling improved faecal continence and reducing costs. The aim of this article was to examine the positive impact of CI on an individual’s QOL and health expenditures. In this case, it was found that a patient with a permanent colostomy who had performed CI for 21 years could eliminate many of the physical and psychological problems as well as peristomal skin complications (PSCs), arising from using a colostomy appliance only. It was also determined in this case scenario that bowel management using CI was three times more cost-effective than the colostomy bag system.


The formation of a colostomy is one of the most commonly applied therapeutic interventions for pathological conditions in the large intestine, primarily for colorectal cancer. This intervention has negative effects on the patient’s QOL by altering body image, defecation habits, and lifestyles.1 A colostomy is associated with many potential or actual problems such as economic burden, psychological and sexual problems, dissatisfaction with the changes in self-image and daily routines, travel difficulties, and fatigue.2-4

Faecal evacuation via colostomies can be managed in several methods: natural spontaneous evacuation using the stoma bag, control with medication, insertion of glycerine suppository or micro-enema into the colostomy, and colostomy irrigation.5 Despite its many advantages, CI has not yet achieved the popularity it deserves among healthcare practices.6 It is the process of instilling 500-1500 ml of water into the colon through the stoma to stimulate colonic peristalsis, thus ensuring bowel evacuation.3 When applied at regular intervals, CI can result in no or minimal faecal evacuation between irrigations, thus achieving a level of continence for individuals.4 The best candidates for CI are adult patients motivated to irrigate, those who have no physical or psychological barriers, other health conditions where CI is contraindicated or issues of compliance in managing a colostomy in the descending or sigmoid colon.7 Physical barriers may include poor vision or poor manual dexterity whereas altered mental alertness or other mental health issues may pose psychologocal barriers. Irritable bowel syndromes, peristomal hernias and post radiation damage are conditions that may prevent the use
of CI8.

CI is rarely associated with complications when administered safely and correctly. It also helps to improve the QOL of individuals with a colostomy.4 CI improves one’s sense of psychological well-being (PWB) and can help overcome problems such as anxiety, depression, and uncertainty. In addition, CI has a positive effect on social challenges, such as the maintenance of intimate relationships as the colostomy appliance can be replaced with a low-profile stoma cap. In general, CI reduces odor and flatus, the most confronting social barriers for patients, and facilitates sleeping, eating, and traveling.7 Further, CI also positively affects spiritual and occupational challenges. From a spiritual perspective, CI prevents untimely noisy and porous discharge of gas and/or faeces, which invalidates ablution and may prevent participation in congregational prayers3. From an employment perspective, CI provides a greater sense of security with no pouch requiring emptying, freedom of movement and less likelihood of leakages8,9.

Furthermore, it is reported CI has a positive economic impact by reducing costs of purchasing and disposal of ostomy equipment and contributing to decrease of peri-stomal skin complications (PSCs) compared to natural evacuation using a stoma bag.8-11 As the costs of healthcare increase, medical expenses become part of the care decision-making process, since the patients may have to pay more and more out of their own pockets.9 The WCET 2020 International Ostomy Guideline12 emphasizes that the socio-economic status of the individual should be taken into account in the care planning with this statement: “It is essential that the individual/family is assessed holistically to enable them to participate in care. Planning and implementation should consider individual, social, economic and health system factors.” Healthcare costs are particularly critical for countries with middle/low socio-economic status where ostomy products are imported12.

However, the literature focusing on the cost contribution of CI is insufficient. In Türkiye, there are no studies on the cost of CI. In this paper, in addition to the positive effects of CI on the individual’s life, the effect of CI on healthcare costs was analyzed in a single case and the impact of waste management on environmental health was highlighted.

Case presentation

The patient and colostomy irrigation

M.A.A. is a 54-year-old male patient working as a shepherd in animal husbandry. M.A.A was admitted to a training and research hospital in a metropolitan city with a diagnosis of colon cancer in 2000. Following extensive medical reviews, M.A.A. underwent Abdominoperineal Resection surgery in February 2001, and a permanent colostomy was created. The patient applied for CI in the post-operative period at the stomatherapy unit of a university hospital in Türkiye. It was determined he met the necessary criteria for initiation of CI. After the patient was instructed about CI, CI was initiated in September 2001. The patient was initially advised to perform CI every 24 hours at the same hour each day for two months. The Stoma and Wound Care Nurse (WOC nurse) met with the patient one week later to assess whether the procedure was performed correctly and to answer the patient’s questions. Since it was determined that there was no/minimal leakage between irrigations for two months, the CI interval was increased to 48 hours.

Currently, M.A.A. has been undertaking CI every 48 hours for more than 21 years. For 13 of these years, however, he has been reusing the CI sets and stoma caps provided in exchange for his prescribed colostomy equipment which was last issued in 2008. The reason for washing and re-using the CI sets is discussed below.

Although confronted with these challenges, M.A.A stated during an interview that since CI eliminated the problems of noise, leakage, odour and flatus his previous levels of anxiety and sleep deprivation caused by these issues were reduced. Moreover, he reported that he did not experience any skin complications in the past 21 years and did not pay for any additional medical examination or associated material costs. The photographs shared by M.A.A. showed that his peristomal skin was healthy (Figure 1-2). M.A.A. stated that he lived very happily with his sheep in the mountains and his only request from us was to seek the inclusion of the CI set and stoma cap in the scope of payment for the irrigation procedure, from which he benefited immensely as did the healthcare system.


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Figure 1: Insertion irrigation cone into the stoma


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Figure 2: Stoma cap, stoma and peri-stomal skin


Colostomy irrigation and health economics

M.A.A. has health insurance encapsulated within the general framework of health insurance, however, CI sets and stoma caps are not covered by health insurance in Türkiye. The ostomy supplies that are covered by health insurance for colostomy patients are prescribed bimonthly per the treating doctor’s prescription and include 60 bags, 20 adapters and 2 pastes. Between 2001 and 2008, M.A.A. received a prescription for colostomy bags, adapters and pastes and exchanged them for CI sets and stoma caps from the company who supplied his ostomy equipment. Between 2008 and 2021 (13 years), as the patient could not exchange his colostomy equipment, he did not have any newly prescribed colostomy equipment and continued using them by cleaning them (washing irrigation bags and sleeves).

The authors contacted the company in Türkiye M.A.A. purchased his colostomy equipment from and obtained prices for the equipment used. These prices included the two-month standard material prescription price (60 bags, 20 adapters, and 2 pastes), the price of the CI set and the stoma caps. From the prices obtained the estimated cost of the equipment was calculated to be TRY 45,288, assuming most patients with a colostomy would have a natural spontaneous evacuation with a colostomy bag and adapter on average daily between 2001 and 2022, even if no complications occurred. However, the cost of bowel management using a CI set and stoma cap in 2001-2022 was TRY 13,269. If the MAA had not re-used the available materials and had continued to receive a fresh CI set and stoma cap every six months, the cost would have been TRY 42,244.

This cost difference and the benefits that MAA has described in this singular case has demonstrated that CI is a cost-effective approach that positively impacts healthcare costs and the patient’s overall QOL. In addition, the fact MAA reportedly never developed a PSC in 21 years that required medical or nursing treatment which when compared to the known average economic burden of prevention and treatment of PSC’s and the use of healthcare resources may be a notable gain.

In this case, the above data were obtained via interviews conducted with M.A.A., review of his medical records and liaison with the company from which he obtained his supplies.  Informed consent was provided by M.A.A. to publish his case details and associated images (Figures 1 and 2).


In the literature, the CI usage rate ranges between 2 to 4%6. However, in addition to this case, the authors personal experience and literature suggest that CI has many benefits such as providing fecal continence, eliminating the need for an ostomy bag, providing a sense of security by preventing leaks, and providing comfort8,10. It also has a positive financial impact by reducing the cost of ostomy supplies, PSC interventions, and visits to healthcare facilities such as hospitals or stomal therapy clinics10. In accordance with the literature7,13, M.A.A also mentioned that he continued his usual daily activities with CI, that his anxiety and sleeping problems previously caused by noise, leakage, odour and flatus were eliminated, and that resolution these issues were positive results on the main factors affecting his peristomal skin health and QOL. The impact of CI on complications and costs was demonstrated in this case. It is certainly not possible to make generalised or assertive conclusions based on a single case. Nonetheless, a recent systematic review of stoma complications reported that long-term colostomy complications across all stoma types was 26.5% (2.0–100%). Further, across all stoma types PSCs accounted for the highest incidence of complications at 14.0% (2.4–46.2%). Those with end colostomies had the highest incidence of complications, with 62.6% (2.0–100%) of patients affected.14

It is remarkable that no complications developed in our case. Certainly, health-related social factors, such as the fact that M.A.A. is relatively young and leads a quiet, active life in the countryside, should not be overlooked. Another issue is the impact of CI on the reduction of healthcare costs. In this specific case, the cost of the materials used by M.A.A. for CI in 21 years was calculated three times lower than in the case of spontaneous evacuation with the bag system. The estimated cost projection of potential PSC complications was not included in these costs. It has been estimated however that the average cost of ostomy supplies increased sixfold over seven weeks for people with PSCs.15 Therefore, the prevention of PSCs with CI also eliminates the need for patients to pay for additional medical examinations and supplies16. Further,   in agreement with the literature which suggests the main contributor to the development of PSCs is leakage16,17, no or minimal leakage between irrigations was considered as one of the factors preventing the development of PSCs in this case.

One factor that should not be disregarded is that M.A.A. used the CI set, stoma cap and irrigation elimination bags for far longer than the manufacturer’s recommended period of use. While, in this current case, M.A.A. did not experience any secondary PSCs or infections, we, the authors, as WOC nurses, advise our patients to use all ostomy equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. However, this case has led the authors to conclude that companies should perhaps review the duration of use of these disposable materials that pose a risk to nature to see whether an extension of wear time is feasible thereby reducing tangible and environmental costs.

In addition, using CI results in less material consumption than natural spontaneous evacuation using an ostomy bag, which contributes negatively to the environment, plastic consumption, and waste management. The disposal of materials such as used adapters/bags and the impact on landfills was also a focus of comments on the environmental aspects of CI. It is a reasonable consideration to minimize plastic waste as the importance of our environment and our impact on it will be increasingly critical in the future.9


In this case, it was demonstrated that CI was a cost-effective approach and contributed positively to the physiological and psychosocial well-being parameters. The fact that the patient did not develop PCS contributed significantly to reducing healthcare costs. It is recommended that WOC nurses offer CI as an option to all eligible patients with a permanent colostomy irrespective  of whether it is time-consuming, and that the CI set should be included in the scope of the payment system for ostomy equipment within Türkiye .

Further, it should be recognized that, despite the valuable information in this case, the management of bowel evacuation in this patient from a different culture relied entirely on his planning and feedback. It is also important to note that the frequency of use of the CI material differed from the manufacturer’s instructions.


The authors thank the company and M.A.A who took part in the study. This case report was prepared according to the CARE guidelines.18

Ethics statement

The first author of this study is Ayise Karadag, and the second author is Havanur Kilic. All authors contributed equally at all parts of the manuscript. The study was adhered to the Declaration of Helsinki. As all authors, we guarantee that we have approved this manuscript’s final version and that the study’s original version has not been previously published or evaluated in another journal. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest and have not received any special support/funding from any financial institution.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


The authors received no funding for this study.


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Ayişe Karadağ, Havanur Kılıç

DOI: https://doi.org/10.33235/wcet.43.3.30-35







通过结肠造口术排泄粪便可以通过以下几种方法进行管理:使用造口袋自然自发排泄、药物控制、在结肠造口中插入甘油栓剂或微型灌肠剂以及结肠造口灌洗。5虽然CI有许多优点,但其尚未在医疗保健实践中普及。6该操作是通过造口将500 mL-1500 mL水逐渐灌入结肠,以刺激结肠蠕动,从而确保排便的过程。3定期进行CI可导致两次灌洗之间无粪便排出或只有极少量的粪便排出,从而达到一定程度的个体控便水平。4CI的最佳候选者是有灌洗动机、无生理或心理障碍、无属于CI禁忌症的其他健康状况或不存在与管理降结肠或乙状结肠造口术相关的依从性问题的成人患者。7生理障碍可能包括视觉不良或手指灵活性较差,而精神警觉性改变或其他心理健康问题可能造成心理障碍。肠易激综合征、造口周围疝气和辐射后损伤等疾病均可能会妨碍CI的使用8

安全、正确地进行CI操作时,很少会出现并发症。它还有助于改善结肠造口术患者的QOL。4CI可提高患者的心理幸福感(PWB),有助于克服焦虑、抑郁和不确定感等问题。此外,由于可以使用低剖面造口盖替代结肠造口器械,所以CI还对维持亲密关系等社会挑战产生了积极影响。一般而言,CI可减少患者最难以克服的社交障碍Å\Å\异味和胀气,并有助于睡眠、进食和出行。7此外,CI还对精神和职业挑战产生了积极影响。从精神角度来看,CI可防止不及时的嘈杂和多孔胀气和/或粪便排放,从而使洗礼无效,并可能妨碍患者参与会众祷告3。从就业角度来看,CI提供了更强的安全感,无需排空造口袋,可自由移动,且渗漏的可能性更小8, 9

此外,据报告,与使用造口袋自然排泄相比,CI可降低购买和处置造口设备的成本,有助于减少造口周围皮肤并发症(PSC),从而产生积极的经济影响。8-11随着医疗保健成本的増加,患者可能必须自费支付越来越多的费用,因此医疗费用将成为护理决策过程的一部分。9WCET 2020国际造口指南12强调,在制定护理计划时应考虑个人的社会经济状地位,并做出以下声明:“必须对个人/家庭进行全面评估,使他们能够参与护理工作。计划和实施应考虑个人、社会、经济和卫生系统因素。”对于需进口造口产品的社会经济地位中等/较低的国家,医疗费用至关重要12








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文献中的CI使用率在2%至4%范围内6。但是,除该病例外,作者的个人经验和文献资料表明,CI还具有许多益处,如有助于大便控制、无需使用造口袋、通过防止渗漏提供安全感且舒适度较高8, 10。它还可以降低造口用品、PSC干预以及前往医院或造口治疗诊所等医疗保健机构就诊的费用,从而产生积极的经济影响10。根据文献7, 13,M.A.A还提到,他在进行CI后可继续开展日常活动,先前因噪音、渗漏、异味和胀气引起的焦虑和睡眠问题均得以消除,并且这些问题的解决还对影响其造口周围皮肤健康状况和QOL的主要因素产生了积极影响。在该病例中证实了CI对并发症和成本的影响。当然,无法根据单个病例得出概括性或肯定性结论。尽管如此,最近一项关于造口并发症的系统性综述报告称,各类造口的长期结肠造口术并发症发生率为26.5%(2.0%-100%)。此外,在各类造口中,PSC的并发症发生率最高,达到14.0%(2.4%-46.2%)。末端结肠

一致16, 17,在该病例中,认为灌洗之间不存在或极少出现渗漏是防止PSC发生的因素之一。









本研究的第一作者是Ayise Karadag,第二作者是Havanur Kilic。所有作者对稿件各部分的贡献相同。该项研究符合《赫尔辛基宣言》。我们,即所有作者,保证我们已批准本稿件的最终版本,并且研究的原始稿件版本先前未曾在另一期刊中发表或接受评价。作者声明不存在任何利益冲突,也未获得任何金融机构提供的任何特殊支持/资助。






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Ayişe Karadağ*
PhD ET/WOC Nurse
Professor, Koç University, School of Nursing, İstanbul, Türkiye
Email akaradag@ku.edu.tr

Havanur Kılıç
RN PhD Student
Teaching Assistant, Koç University, Graduate School of Health Sciences, İstanbul, Türkiye

* Corresponding author


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