What is a stoma?

What is a stoma?

A stoma is a surgically created opening in the body that allows faeces or urine either from the intestine or urinary tract to pass. This procedure is often known as ostomy surgery.

There are three types of stoma:

  • A colostomy formed from the large intestine
  • An ileostomy formed from the small intestine
  • A urostomy diverting urine via a small section of the intestine

The basics: different types of stoma

What is a colostomy?

What is a colostomy?

If, for some reason, your rectum or a lower part of your colon has been removed or if it needs to rest for a period, you will need an artificial opening of the large intestine (called a stoma or an ostomy) for the faeces to pass through. This is called a colostomy. Read more about colostomies
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What is a colostomy?

During colostomy surgery, part of your colon (large intestine) is brought out onto the surface of your abdomen creating an opening called a stoma. A colostomy is usually created on the left-hand side of your abdomen and it can be either temporary or permanent depending on the reason for surgery or the severity of the illness.

Faeces in this part of the intestine are usually a soft formed stool. Because a stoma has no muscle to control defecation, faeces will need to be collected using a pouch.

What is an end colostomy?

The most common kind of colostomy is an end colostomy, where the end of the colon (large intestine) is brought out onto the surface of your abdomen and then stitched to the skin creating an opening called a stoma.

An end colostomy can be either permanent or temporary

A temporary colostomy is typically used in situations where the diseased part of the intestine has either been removed or needs to rest before the large intestine can be re-joined together.

The permanent solution is chosen in situations where it is too risky or not possible to re-join the two parts of the intestine.

What is a loop colostomy?

In a loop colostomy a loop of the bowel is brought out above skin level. An incision is made half way through the large bowel to create two openings. This is then rolled back on itself and sewn onto the skin forming the stoma.

The loop colostomy is typically a temporary measure performed in acute situations. It can also be carried out to protect a surgical join in the bowel.

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What is an ileostomy?

What is an ileostomy?

If, for some reason, your large intestine has been removed or if it needs to rest for a period, you will need an artificial opening of the small intestine (called a stoma or an ostomy) for the faeces to pass through. This is called an ileostomy. Read more about ileostomies
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What is an ileostomy?

An ileostomy is created when part of your small intestine called the ileum is brought to the surface of your abdomen to form a stoma. There are many different reasons for an ileostomy to be formed, but typically it will be formed on the right-hand side of your abdomen.

An ileostomy can be either temporary or permanent depending on the reason for surgery or the severity of the illness.

Stools in this part of the intestine are generally a thick fluid and, because a stoma has no muscle to control defecation, faeces will need to be collected in a pouch.

What is an end ileostomy?

The most common ileostomy is an end ileostomy, where the end of the small intestine (ileum) is brought out through a small cut in the abdominal wall, and then stitched to the skin of the stomach creating an opening (ostomy).

An end ileostomy can be either permanent or temporary

A temporary ileostomy is typically used in situations where the diseased part of the bowel has been removed and the remaining part needs to rest before the intestine can be re-joined together.

The permanent solution is chosen in situations where it is too risky or not possible to re-join the two parts of the intestine.

What is loop ileostomy?

In a loop ileostomy a loop of the small bowel is brought out above skin level. An incision is made half way through the bowel to create two openings. This is then rolled back on itself and sewn onto the skin forming the stoma.

The loop ileostomy is typically temporary and performed to protect a surgical join in the intestine or to relieve symptoms. If temporary, it will be closed or reversed in a later operation.

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What is a urostomy?

What is a urostomy?

If you are unable to pass urine naturally, a possible solution is to create an alternative opening in your body for the urine to be diverted through. This is called a urostomy. Read more about urostomies
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What is a urostomy?

A urostomy involves replacing the bladder function by diverting your urine into a section of the small intestine.

During ostomy surgery, part of the small intestine (ileum) is isolated and brought out onto the surface of your abdomen creating an opening called a stoma.

Because the bladder has been removed there is no reservoir for the storage of urine. The isolated section of the small intestine has no muscle or valve to control urination, so you will need to wear a urostomy pouch to collect the urine.

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The basics: the digestive and urinary systems

What can lead to stoma surgery?

What can lead to stoma surgery?

An ostomy, or stoma, is typically the result of an operation to remove disease from a bowel obstruction or injury to the digestive or urinary system. Read more about what can lead to stoma surgery
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What can lead to stoma surgery?

There are quite a few medical conditions that can cause ostomy surgery. It can be the result of an operation to remove disease such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or diverticulitis but it can also be caused by bowel obstruction, urinary or faecal incontinence and injury to the digestive or urinary system.

What can lead to a urostomy?

The most common cause for a urostomy is cancer-related removal of the bladder. A urostomy can, however, also be caused by accidental damage, severe kidney disease, urinary incontinence or surgical complications because of pelvic or abdominal surgery.

What can lead to an ileostomy?

An ileostomy is necessary when the large intestine is damaged, or if it has been removed due to cancer or injury. Other causes for ileostomy include Crohn's disease, Diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis and tumours causing blockage of the intestine. A temporary ileostomy can be formed if the large intestine needs to heal after an operation.

What can lead to a colostomy?

When diseases, such as cancer, cause part of the colon and large intestine to be removed, a colostomy is needed. Other causes could include Crohn´s disease, injury or faecal incontinence. A temporary colostomy can be formed if the large intestine needs to heal after an operation.

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The digestive and urinary system

The digestive and urinary system

Understanding how the digestive and urinary system works will help you to understand how your stoma will function. Read more about the digestive and urinary system
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The digestive and urinary system

When you eat, the food travels down a long, narrow tube (oesophagus) into your stomach. Here, the food is churned into smaller pieces and your digestive juices turn it into liquid.

The journey continues as the contents of your stomach move into the small intestine (ileum), where digestion finishes. Your body absorbs the nutrients it needs for energy, growth and building new cells and channels these into the bloodstream.

When all nutrition has been absorbed, the remains move into the large intestine (colon), where your body absorbs more fluid to make the waste more solid. The muscles in your colon wall then push any waste forward into your rectum, where it passes out of your body through your anus, with the aid of the sphincter muscles, as stool.

How will a colostomy or an ileostomy affect the digestive system?

When a colostomy or an ileostomy is formed it alters the usual way you go to the toilet to pass faeces. Instead of coming out through your anus, your faeces will pass through the new opening in your abdomen. This is known as an ostomy or stoma. The passing of faeces is usually controlled by a special sphincter muscle in the anus.

However, the main difference for you when you have an ostomy, is that you are no longer able to hold on to or have control over, when you need to pass faeces. You also do not have any control over when you pass wind (flatus).

Urostomy and how it affects the urinary system

Urine is made by your kidneys and travels down two tubes (the ureters) to your bladder. Urine is produced all the time, but it is stored in your bladder until you get a sense that you need to urinate. The urine then passes out of your body through the urethra.
When a urostomy is made, it alters the usual way you pass urine. A passage is made for urine to pass from your kidneys to the outside of your abdomen, ending in a small spout. This is called a stoma. Instead of coming out through your urethra, your urine will pass through the stoma.

This means that you will no longer pass urine in the usual way. Instead you will need to wear a pouch to collect the urine that will constantly drain from your stoma.

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