What is an Ostomy? What is a Stoma?

An ostomy is an opening created on the abdomen through the skin surface for the discharge of body waste. It replaces the usual system of disposal. An ostomy is created during surgery to maintain normal body function without a rectum, diseased colon or urinary bladder.

The opening is called a stoma - from the Greek word meaning mouth - and the body waste is released into a special bag, often called an appliance.

There are a number of different kinds of ostomy surgery, the three main types being colostomy, ileostomy and urostomy (urinary diversion). The day-to-day care and management is different for each type.

A stoma may be formed as a temporary measure, as part of other surgical procedures, and may be reversed after several weeks or months.

A person with an ostomy is often known as an ostomate. There are about 6,500 people with an ostomy in New Zealand, made up of colostomates (66%), ileostomates (21%) and urostomates (13%).

A COLOSTOMY is an artiicial opening in the colon (large intestine) which is brought to the surface of the abdomen. It may be needed because of cancer of the bowel, diverticular disease, a congenital condition or because of internal injury.

Discharge from a colostomy will vary in consistency and frequency, depending on its location in the colon and the types of food consumed.

An ILEOSTOMY is created by bringing part of the ileum (small intestine) through an opening in the abdomen and is usually done when the colon (large intestine) is diseased, requiring complete removal, or to rest a part of the large bowel.

Discharge from an ileostomy is fairly constant and often watery, and contains digestive enzymes.

A UROSTOMY (sometimes called a urinary diversion or ileal conduit) is formed when urine must be diverted from its usual route out of the body, to the surface of the abdomen. The urinary bladder is usually bypassed or removed because of cancer, urinary incontinence, congenital conditions, spinal injury or some other condition.

Discharge from a urostomy is urine which tends to low or spurt frequently.

This information has been compiled by a colostomate, an ileostomate and a urostomate and is based on their own experiences. It is distributed by the Federation of New Zealand Ostomy Societies to those interested, by reason of their being the subject of ostomy surgery or anyone who cares for such patients or is a family member.

Ostomy surgery is not uncommon and after convalescence and familiarity with appliance management, the new ostomate can conidently return to normal living in the sure knowledge that no-one will know that your “plumbing” has been modiied unless you choose to tell people.

You may be reading this because you have been advised that ostomy surgery is recommended and you know little or nothing about ostomies. Be assured that information, help and support are readily available from your local Ostomy Society as well as from various health professionals, in particular stoma care nurses who are specially trained to ensure the speedy return to normal living of all ostomates.