Colostomy Gone Bad? What Could Be Worse

The man then sought the services of Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., where he received several surgeries to correct the problem, according to the lawsuit. Doctors at Christiana declined comment on the case.

Dr. Christine Ren, associate professor of surgery at the New York University School of Medicine, said that though surgical errors that would result in these symptoms are rare, they are not unheard of.

"I'm sure this has happened in the past," she said.

She said there are a number of factors inherent to this type of surgery that could have led doctors to make a mistake like the one alleged in the lawsuit. Among these, she said, are the number and position of the structures in the lower abdomen. She adds that obesity or prior scarring within the abdomen can also make technically challenging colostomy reversal surgeries even more difficult.

But she adds that it's difficult to say for certain whether the surgery was to blame, as the lawsuit alleges.

"He may have had this complication even before the colostomy was performed," she said.

For instance, she said, some patients suffering from diverticulitis naturally experience a leakage of fecal matter into the bladder and urinary tract.

"That's been known to happen without surgery," she said. "But if this did happen secondary to an operation, then it really shouldn't have happened, and it is very rare."

Regardless of the cause, she said that any instance in which fecal matter is rerouted through the bladder is a dangerous situation -- particularly when it comes to infection.

"Because feces has a tremendous amount of bacteria and urine is sterile, then the individual would most likely have infection in his bladder, and possibly even his kidneys," she said.

Path to Recovery

Shelsby said the health of his client has improved, but adds that the complications the man experienced, as well as multiple surgeries following the reversal procedure, have left him in a weakened state.

"The time period when this was going on took a great deal out of him," Shelsby said.

Thus far, the exact amount of damages that could be awarded if the suit is successful has not been determined.

"Ultimately the jury will have to decide what the value is," Shelsby said.

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