Is Discharge From a Rectal Stump Normal?

The intestine is not connected, but it still keeps producing mucus

Some people who have had surgery for their inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or for another reason may have their small or their large intestine diverted to a stoma. Waste material will leave the body through the stoma, where it is collected in an ostomy bag, or a pouch.

In some cases, a person will have a stoma but will still have a rectum, it's just that the rectum is not being used to hold stool. The stool leaves the body through the stoma and doesn't ever enter the rectum. Sometimes there can still be discharge from the bottom, even though there's a stoma. How often there is a need to empty some fluid out of the rectum, and why, can vary from person to person. In many cases, this is a normal occurrence, and nothing to be concerned about. However, if the discharge is bloody or smelly it should be discussed with a doctor.

What Is Ostomy Surgery?

colostomy is created when part of the large intestine is removed from the body. The end of the remaining intestine is then connected to the abdomen. Waste (stool) leaves the body through a stoma and is collected in an appliance that is worn on the outside of the body. An ileostomy is when it is the small intestine that is connected to the abdomen wall. This is usually after the large intestine has been completely removed, but sometimes the large intestine is left (typically in order for it to heal) inside and is just bypassed.

People who have a permanent stoma may choose to have their rectum removed or to keep it. Those that have the potential to reverse their ostomy in the future may elect to keep their rectum. The amount of rectum remaining will vary from person to person and will depend greatly on the reason for the ostomy, such as those that are done to treat IBD, ​colon cancer, trauma, or another condition.

Why the Rectum Might Have Discharge

The rectum is living tissue, and it will continue to produce mucus even though it is not "hooked up" to anything, and stool is not currently passing through it. Mucus is a part of normal stool, although it is not usually present in a great enough quantity for it to be visible. In the absence of any stool, the mucus passing through the rectum becomes readily apparent. Mucus might be relieved out of the rectum by sitting on the toilet and passing it as one would pass stool. 

What to Do About Leaks

Some people find that the mucus could leak out of the rectum at times, especially if it tends to be of a watery consistency. Some gauze or a sanitary napkin is worn in the undergarments may help to catch unexpected leaks. It may also help with leaks to periodically sit on the toilet to try to expel the mucus, even before feeling the need to pass it.

If It Seems Like Something Is Off

If the amount of mucus is excessive, particularly bothersome, has a foul odor, or is green or yellow in color, it may need to be investigated by a physician. Call your doctor if you find that you are experiencing any pain or other symptoms connected with the rectum or the passing of mucus. Seeing blood mixed in with the mucus may not be the result of a serious problem, but it should still be discussed with a doctor.

View Article Sources
  • Cancer Research UK. "Rectal leaking after colostomy surgery." NHS Information Partners 08 Feb 2007. 23 Sept 2014.