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Can my emergency Hartmann colostomy be reversed

I've recently had an emergency Hartmann colostomy due to diverticulitis. Is it quiet common for this to be reversed and is it something that's covered by my health insurance?

10 September 2019

Last reviewed on 10 September 2020 by Debbie Hawkins, a registered nurse in our Health at Hand team.

Hartmann’s procedure is an operation to remove part of the sigmoid colon and/or the rectum. It is most usually performed for patients with bowel cancer or diverticular disease It is often performed in an emergency situation where there is a blockage of the bowel, a perforation of the bowel or if there is a lot of infection around the bowel.

This operation can be performed as a laparoscopic procedure but because it is usually performed as an emergency, an open technique is often preferred. During the operation the diseased part of the sigmoid colon and/or rectum is removed. If the surgeon doesn’t feel that it is safe to re-join the bowel, because of infection, obstruction or perforation, the end of the colon is brought to the surface on the left side of the abdomen to create a colostomy.

The rectum that is left behind is usually closed off with staples or sutures and left inside the abdomen. Forming a colostomy and leaving the other end of the bowel inside is known as Hartmann’s procedure.

A follow up consultation is usually arranged after about two weeks. Patients can always be seen sooner if there are problems.

In many cases the colostomy can be reversed. This involves another operation when the surgeon takes away the colostomy and re-joins the colon to the end of the bowel that has been left inside. The surgeon will discuss this at follow up. Normally patients are advised to wait at least 3 months, so they are fully recovered, before undergoing a reversal. Please contact your personal advisory team to discuss membership cover.

Answered by the Health at Hand team.

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