What Is A Stoma?

Originally published on: July 30th, 2021. Last modified on September 20th, 2021

A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that can be connected to either your digestive or urinary system to allow waste (urine or faeces) to be diverted out of your body. It looks like a small, pinkish, circular piece of flesh that is sewn to your body. It may lie fairly flat to your body or protrude out. Over the top of your stoma you will wear a pouch, which can either be closed or have an opening at the bottom. Your stoma has no nerve endings so you should feel no pain from it.

According to research carried out by the NHS, there are 176,824 people in the UK living with a stoma, with the most common conditions resulting in stoma surgery being colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and accidental injury.

Why Would Someone Need A Stoma?

There are many reasons why you may need a stoma. Common reasons include bowel cancer, bladder cancer, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis), diverticulitis or an obstruction to the bladder or bowel. A stoma can be temporary or permanent depending on the cause.

Stoma Diagram
Diagram of a Stoma (Colostomy)

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Stoma Bag being wornStoma Types

There are three main types of ostomy – colostomy, urostomy and ileostomy.

Colostomy

A colostomy is when a part of your large bowel or colon is pulled through from an incision made on your abdomen to form a stoma. There are two types of colostomy that can be formed.

End Colostomy

Where one end of the colon is pulled through and sewn to your abdomen. This can be permanent or temporary. The other part of the diseased bowel is usually either removed or allowed to heal before being joined back up together

Loop Colostomy

This is when a looped portion of your colon is pulled through to your abdomen. An incision is made in the loop and then sewn to your stomach with a rod to keep it above surface level. A loop colostomy is usually a temporary measure performed in emergency operation and will be reversed a few weeks/months down the line.

Learn more on the NHS website

Ileostomy

An ileostomy is when part of your small bowel (the ileum) is pulled through an incision made on your abdomen to form a stoma. There are two types of ileostomy that can be formed.

End Ileostomy

Where one end of the ileum is pulled through and sewn to your abdomen. This can be permanent or temporary. The other part of the diseased bowel is usually either removed or allowed to heal before being joined back up together

Loop Ileostomy

This is when a looped portion of your ileum is pulled through to your abdomen. An incision is made in the loop and then sewn to your stomach with a rod to keep it above surface level. A loop ileostomy is usually a temporary measure performed in emergency operation and will be reversed a few weeks/months down the line.

Learn more from the NHS

Urostomy

A urostomy is formed when your bladder is removed due to disease such as bladder cancer.

A small piece of your bowel will be pulled through an incision made through your abdomen and sewn to your stomach to form a stoma. The ureters will then be detached from the bladder and attached to the piece of bowel to form the urostomy.

At the Bladder & Bowel Community, we offer a range of help and support to those who have a stoma including help and advice from qualified nurses and a Home Delivery Service to ensure you have everything you need.

For more information about what a stoma is and how we can help explore our stoma care section where you will find information about what to expect before and after surgery, products available, problems you may encounter with a stoma, and where you can go to talk to people in a similar situation.

THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE IS A GUIDE ONLY. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU SPEAK TO YOUR GP OR A QUALIFIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL ABOUT YOUR CONDITION.
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