A stoma is a portion of your large or small intestine or urinary tract that has been brought through the surface of your abdomen (belly) and then folded back. The location depends on your medical condition. A stoma provides an alternative path for urine (in the case of a urostomy) or stool (in the case of a colostomy or ileostomy) to leave your body.1
All stomas are not created equal. They vary in size, shape, location and construction.2
- End stoma: the bowel is cut, and the working end is brought through the abdomen to the skin surface
- Loop stoma: a loop of the bowel is brought through the abdomen to the skin surface and temporarily supported by a plastic bridge or rod
- Double-barrel stoma: the ends of the bowel are brought through the abdomen to the skin surface as two separate stomas
Depending on the reason for your ostomy, your surgeon will decide which kind of stoma is best for you.
Like you, every stoma is unique. Taking good care of your stoma by selecting a pouching system and routine that fits your lifestyle is critical for your comfort and health. When fitted correctly and taken care of properly, pouching systems help you return to a more active life.
1 Malik R, Clarke N, Pearse I, Carlson GL. Intestinal and urological stomas: surgical aspects. In: Lyon CC, Smith AJ, eds. Abdominal Stomas and Their Skin Disorders: An Atlas of Diagnosis and Management. London, UK: Martin Dunitz; 2001:1-20.
2 McGarity WC. Gastrointestinal surgical procedures. In: Hampton BG, Bryant RA, eds. Ostomies and Continent Diversions: Nursing Management. St Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book; 1992:349-371.