What is a Stoma?

Stoma is a Greek word meaning ‘mouth’ or ‘opening’. A stoma looks like a small spout, deep pink in colour similar to the inside of the mouth (hence the Greek meaning) and, although it looks raw, it has no feeling. A stoma is the result of a surgical procedure to remove disease such as cancer, Crohn’s disease or Diverticulitis – or from a bowel obstruction or injury to the digestive or urinary system. It is an artificial opening that allows faeces or urine either from the intestine or from the urinary tract to pass.

 

The stomach

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

 

The small bowels

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

 

The large bowel

When all nutrition has been absorbed, the remains move into the large bowel (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.

Types of Stomas

Colostomy

In a colostomy operation, part of your large bowel (colon) is brought to the surface of your abdomen to form a stoma (opening). A colostomy is usually made on the left-hand side of your abdomen, but may in some circumstances be on the right-hand side. When a colostomy is made on your abdomen 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 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 a stoma, 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 or flatus.
Stools in this part of the intestine are solid and because a stoma has no muscle to control defecation, will need to be collected using a stoma pouch.

Ileostomy

In an ileostomy operation, part of your small bowel (ileum) is brought to the surface of your abdomen to form a stoma (opening). An ileostomy is usually made on the right hand side of your abdomen, but may in some circumstances be on the left hand side. When an ileostomy is made on your abdomen, 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 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 a stoma, 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 or flatus.
Stools in this part of the intestine are generally fluid and, because a stoma has no muscle to control defecation, will need to be collected in a pouch.

The urinary system
Urine is made by your kidneys and travels down two tubes called 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.
Urostomy
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 (opening). Instead of coming out through your urethra, your urine will pass through the stoma. An isolated part of the intestine is brought onto the surface of the right-hand side of your abdomen and the other end is sewn up. The ureters are detached from the bladder and reattached to the isolated section of the intestine. Because this section of the intestine is too small to function as a reservoir, and there is no muscle or valve to control urination, you will need a urostomy pouch to collect the urine. The passing of urine is usually controlled by a special muscle in the urethra. However, the main difference for you when you have a stoma, is that you are no longer able to hold on to or have control over, when you need to pass urine.