Question: Concerns About Rectal Mucus Discharge After Colostomy

Dear Support Staff, I am a 70-year-old retired registered nurse who underwent a Hartman procedure for a colostomy several months ago, with no plans for reversal. My medical history was clear of bowel problems until last summer. Recently, I’ve noticed an increase in the activity of my rectal stump, resulting in the expulsion of cream-colored mucous, which is odorless. There’s no blood or stool present, but I experienced chills and a low-grade fever (temperatures around 37.8, 37.9). My surgeon advised ER visit only if the fever or other symptoms worsened. Is this discharge normal? It seems to be decreasing now, and my temperature has normalized.

Response: Normalcy of Mucus Production in Rectal Stump

It’s quite common to experience mucus discharge from the rectal area following a colostomy. The lower part of your bowel, which remains after the surgery, continues to produce mucus as a natural function. The absence of stool is expected, as bowel movements are redirected through the stoma.

The presence of mucus alone, especially without blood or stool, should not be a cause for alarm. It’s a normal occurrence as your body adjusts post-surgery. However, it’s always wise to monitor any changes in your body, especially if you experience symptoms like fever or chills. Your decision to contact your surgeon was prudent, and their advice to seek emergency care in case of fever escalation or other complications is sound.

Given that the discharge is lessening and your temperature is returning to normal, it seems your body is regulating itself post-surgery. Nonetheless, remain vigilant and consult healthcare professionals if you notice any significant changes or if your symptoms recur.

Warm Regards,

Karen Bruton, RN BScN MCISc-WH WOCC(C)
Nurse Education Consultant – Interprofessional Practice Support
Indigenous Services Canada, Government of Canada
Ostomy Canada (Volunteer)
Medical and Lifestyle Advisory Team Lead


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *