DILASTOM® Stoma Dilator Guide: Uses, Instructions & FAQs

DILASTOM® Stoma Dilator Guide: Uses, Instructions & FAQs

Dilator

During an ostomy surgery, your doctor will create a stoma to allow waste materials to pass out of your body. Learning to live with a stoma can present new self-care challenges. One skill you may need to learn is how to dilate your stoma. Ahead, find out more about keeping your stoma healthy with DILASTOM® dilators.

Stoma Basics

If your urinary or digestive systems are damaged, diseased or blocked, you may need to undergo ostomy surgery so that waste materials can leave your body. During the procedure, the doctor will create an opening in your abdominal wall and connect one of your digestive organs to it. "Stoma" is the name for this surgically created opening.

There are a few main types of ostomies:

  • Colostomy: This procedure connects the large intestine, also known as the colon, to an opening in the skin. Feces can pass through this opening.
  • Ileostomy: In this surgery, the small intestine is attached to the opening in the abdominal wall. As with a colostomy, fecal matter passes through the stoma, but the material is in a more liquid or paste-like form.
  • Urostomy: Urine passes from the body through the stoma formed during a urostomy procedure. Part of the small or large intestine must be used to connect the urinary system to the opening in the skin.

To learn more about colostomies and ileostomies, watch the following video:

Stoma Care

A healthy stoma has a moist appearance and is red or pink in color. The stoma should protrude slightly from the skin's surface.

Sometimes, however, stomas develop problems. For example, the stoma may retract, prolapse, herniate or tighten.

Learn more about stoma isssues in this video:

Your doctor may recommend dilation to help address some problems, particularly retraction or stenosis.

Retraction

This condition occurs when the moist tissue moves below the surface level of the abdomen instead of protruding slightly. The retraction may affect only one side of the opening, or it may go all the way around.

Left unaddressed, retraction can lead to stenosis. This is most likely for retractions that affect the full circumference of the stoma. Dilating the retracted stoma may reduce the likelihood of developing stenosis.

Stenosis

When the opening becomes unusually tight, the condition is known as "stenosis." Research shows that stenosis occurs in up to 14 percent of stoma patients. Although stenosis should be monitored by a doctor, not all cases are a cause for concern.

It is possible, however, for stenosis to cause vomiting, pain or the inability to easily pass waste. When that happens, surgery may be necessary for widening the opening.

With the use of stoma dilators, surgery may be avoidable. Some doctors recommend that patients perform at-home dilation to stretch the opening. This practice may help to reverse the stenosis so that surgery will not be required.

Blockage

A painful blockage occurs when stool cannot pass through the stoma. This can cause severe discomfort and vomiting, and there will be little to no fecal output.

In some cases, dilation may be recommended for treating a blockage. However, dilation is not the most common method of clearing blockages, so you shouldn't try it unless your doctor specifically recommends doing so.

How to Perform Stomal Dilation

DILASTOM stoma dilators allow you to take care of your stoma at home. You'll receive a two-pack of instruments that are for your use only. 

For your initial treatments, use the smaller of the two dilators. As your treatment progresses, you will advance to the larger size. Your caregiver will advise you on when to switch sizes.

To use a stoma dilator:

  • Apply lubricant to the shaft of the instrument. Petroleum jelly is often used, but your doctor may recommend an alternative lubricant.
  • Gently push the dilator into the stoma. To ease insertion, rotate the device slightly as you move it forward.
  • With light pressure, use your hand to hold the dilator in place for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • At the end of the treatment time, gently withdraw the instrument.
  • Perform dilation once in the morning and once in the evening for the duration of your treatment.

These dilators are reusable. Ask your doctor for recommendations on cleaning the instruments between uses.

Stoma Dilator FAQs

Is Dilation Always Necessary?

No, many patients never experience stoma complications that require dilation. This practice is best for cases that involve retraction or stenosis of the stoma. Only dilate your stoma if your doctor recommends doing so. If dilation is not medically necessary, you should never insert anything into your stoma.

How Long Should Dilation Last?

Each time you use a dilator, you should leave it in place for 10 to 15 minutes. You can repeat the procedure twice a day; there should be approximately 12 hours between sessions.

You may need to perform regular dilation at home for one to two months. Some people need to continue stomal dilation beyond that timeframe, and long-term use may be acceptable.

Why Are Two Dilators Included in a Package?

DILASTOM dilators come in two sizes for use over the course of your treatment. You should use the smaller instrument for the first portion of your treatment. As the opening becomes wider, you'll progress to the larger size. Your doctor can provide guidance on when to start using the larger dilator.

What If I Have Other Dilator Questions?

Your doctor's office can provide guidance about stoma dilators. Consult your medical team to learn whether dilation is for you, receive hands-on instruction on how to perform the procedure, and address any concerns.

Brian Chandler

Brian Chandler