Question: Concerns About Mucous Discharge Color After Bowel Resection Surgery

I recently underwent bowel resection surgery and had a temporary ileostomy placed. It’s been 10 days since the operation. After returning home from the hospital, I experienced an urge to use the toilet, which didn’t occur during my hospital stay. I noticed a significant discharge of mucous, which, after reading some articles, I understand is normal. My concern, however, is about the color of the mucous. Instead of the brown color commonly mentioned, mine was a red-burgundy hue. I haven’t observed any bright red or differently colored discharge apart from the mucous. Could you please clarify if this is normal? Thank you for your assistance.

Response: Normalcy and Variations in Mucous Discharge Post-Surgery

Your query is quite valid and important to address.

  1. Nature of Mucous Discharge in Temporary Ileostomy:
    • Post-ileostomy surgery, the remaining part of your bowel that is bypassed still remains active. Though no stool passes through it, the bowel continues to produce mucous, which is a natural lubricant aiding stool movement. Since the stool is diverted, this mucous is discharged through the anus.
  2. Variations in Mucous Color:
    • The color of mucous can vary. In your case, observing a red-burgundy colored mucous shortly after surgery is within the realm of normal. This variation in color can be attributed to the presence of blood vessels near the bowel lining, which may bleed easily, especially if you’re on blood thinners post-surgery.
  3. Monitoring Changes in Discharge:
    • It’s crucial to monitor the mucous discharge. Over time, it should become less red and transition to a clear or putty-like color. Any persistent redness or significant changes should prompt a consultation with your healthcare provider.
  4. When to Seek Medical Advice:
    • If you’re concerned or notice persistent changes in the discharge, it’s advisable to document this (through pictures or samples) and discuss it with your family doctor, surgeon, or a Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (NSWOC).
  5. Summary:
    • Rectal or anal mucous discharge post-temporary ileostomy surgery is a normal occurrence, with variations in amount and frequency.
    • Initially, mucous may exhibit a reddish hue post-surgery, gradually changing to a clearer or putty-like color.
    • Continuous monitoring and consultation with healthcare professionals are recommended for any concerns or notable changes.

Your awareness and proactive approach towards understanding and managing your post-surgery symptoms are commendable. Should you have any further queries or need assistance, feel free to reach out.

Best wishes for a smooth recovery.


Andrea Manson
Retired Healthcare Professional