What is an Ostomy?

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  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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An ostomy is a hole in the body created by a surgeon through which excrement can pass. There are times when it is necessary for a doctor to remove or bypass the colon or bladder. In such cases, the elimination of human waste is accounted for via an ostomy. Usually, the end of the hole, termed a stoma, is brought to the abdomen wall. The term ostomy can also be used as a suffix to describe on which part of the body the surgery was performed.

An ostomy is often created in situations where a person’s quality of life would be better served by the surgery. For example, an ostomy can be used to help heal a surgical wound or injury to the colon. The colon is where waste products are stored before being eliminated, and an injury to the colon could be contaminated by stool. In such cases, a surgeon can create an ostomy above the area to allow the colon to heal. This type of ostomy is often reversible.

Ostomies can be performed on different parts of the body. Three common types are colostomy, ileostomy, and urostomy. Colostomies are performed on the colon, ileostomy on the last portion of the small instestine, and a urostomy to allow urine to bypass the bladder. These procedures will also often require a stoma, usually in the abdominal region to the right or left of the belly button.


A urostomy is often used to bypass the bladder. In this type of ostomy, a part of the small intestine or a part of the large intestine is removed and used to make a stoma. The urethra is attached to this stoma, allowing urine to bypass the bladder and flow out of the body. Ileostomy is a hole leading from the last portion of the small intestine to a stoma. In this instance, the stoma is usually located to the right of the belly button.

Colostomy stomas are often on the left side of the belly button, but sometimes they can be on the right. When on the left side, a bag is needed to trap the waste. If the stoma on the right side, usually only a pad is needed. Sometimes, there is need for two stomas in a colostomy. In such cases, one stoma eliminates waste, while the other eliminates mucus.


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