Six months ago, when Ravi Krishnamurthy, 60, a cancer patient from Gariahat, was told that his urinary bladder would have to be removed to save his life, he was understandably nervous. Confused, he went to Mumbai, where specialists removed his bladder and constructed an alternative passage, known as ‘stoma surgery’. This would help collect the urine in a special pouch, enabling him to lead a normal life without further trouble.
Two months ago, Krishnamurthy, who plies a garments trade, referred three more cancer patients to the Mumbai doctors for stoma surgeries.
Calcuttans can, however, get themselves treated at the first-ever outpatient stoma clinic that has just come up on Rashbehari Avenue, and that promises to provide a comprehensive treatment to the increasing symptoms among citizens.
Every year, at least 400 Calcuttans, according to modest estimates, undergo stoma surgery, which allows stool or urine to pass through the stoma, bypassing the cancerous urethra or the anus and collect in a special pouch. “All along, these patients had to suffer because they had no control over bowel or bladder movements, causing severe complications,” said cancer surgeon and stoma-care specialist at Tata Memorial Centre, Gautam Mukhopadhyay, who along with a few colleagues, have set up the new unit in Calcutta.
According to Mukhopadhyay, the earlier pouches caused irritation, gave off odour and sprung leaks, causing major skin irritation. As a result, such patients were embarrassed to leave home. The new pouches have protective skin barriers and anti-reflux valves, which prevent the urine from flowing back to the stoma.
At the new clinic, state-of-the-art techniques have brought about a revolution in stoma care and now the pouches are being made with an anti-odour barrier. They have special valves, besides a special drain valve at the bottom, enabling it to be emptied whenever need be. At night, a patient can fit a flexible tube to the valve and forget all about the pouch. “One of the important factors is that the pouch is not connected to nerve endings, thereby causing no pain to the patient. The treatment allows a person to lead a normal life, including long office hours,” Mukhopadhyay added.
At the stoma clinic, trained nurses and psychologists counsel patients on the benefits of such surgeries. The unit is also treating patients for excessive bleeding, nausea, vomiting or urine crystals in the stoma.