What is Stoma Surgery?

N. Madison
N. Madison

Stoma surgery is performed to create a new opening through which a person’s waste may leave the body. This type of surgery may be performed to allow the bowels to empty through a new opening rather than through the anus. Stoma surgery may also be used to provide urine with an alternate way of leaving the body instead of exiting through a person’s urethra. The surgery may be performed to establish a temporary outlet for a person’s waste or as a permanent fix for bowel and bladder conditions.

A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.

One type of stoma surgery, also referred to as an ostomy, is called a colostomy. This type of surgery is used to remove a person’s rectum. It may be performed after trauma to the rectum or because of cancer of the bowel. In some cases, it may be performed because of a chronic bowel disease or because a person is fecally incontinent. After the rectum is removed through this type of surgery, a person’s colon is attached to an opening a surgeon creates in the abdomen; this opening is called a stoma.

Stoma surgery is sometimes used to permanently fix a bowel or bladder condition.
Stoma surgery is sometimes used to permanently fix a bowel or bladder condition.

Another type of stoma surgery that may be performed is called an ileostomy. This type of surgery involves the removal of both a person’s rectum and his colon. The surgeon then creates the stoma in a person’s abdomen and attaches it to the bottom portion of the patient’s small intestine. This part of the small intestine is called the ileum. An ileostomy may be performed because of a chronic bowel disorder, bowel cancer, incontinence, or traumatic injury to the bowel.

Sometimes stoma surgery is performed to provide a new outlet through which urine will leave the body. With this type of surgery, a surgeon attaches tubes that provide urine transportation from the kidneys to the bladder to a stoma in the abdomen or to a person’s small intestine. This surgery may be performed when a person has bladder cancer, trauma to the bladder, or chronic bladder inflammation. It may also be used in severe cases of urinary incontinence.

The stoma that is created through stoma surgery is usually both reddened and moist. Patients are usually taught how to care for these openings as well as how to use special bags to collect and dispose of the waste that leaves the body. In cases in which the need for the artificial opening is only temporary, surgery may eventually be reversed, and the person may return to the normal way of passing waste.

Stoma surgery may be performed when a patient has bowel cancer.
Stoma surgery may be performed when a patient has bowel cancer.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


@simrin-- My husband had a colostomy stoma surgery several years ago as well. He might have the option of reversing it in the near future and he's not yer decided on that. When people ask him about the colostomy and the colostomy bag though, he always says that he wish he could change where the opening (stoma) was made.

I think this is the main issue for most people after a colostomy surgery. Usually, a nurse will discuss where the opening should be with the patient before a surgery. But if it is an emergency surgery, there might not be time for that. That's what happened to my husband and his stoma is too high up, right around the waistline of his pants. So that has caused some problems.

He also had an infection at the stoma once because he didn't clean it properly. But overall, the position of the stoma and finding the right skin guard and spray to protect his skin from the bag and the tape has been the hardest part of the surgery.


@burcidi-- Living with a stoma bag is definitely something that requires time to get used to. Initially, changing the bag can be hard and sometimes there is irritation around the opening and from the bag. But once you're used to it and know how to manage it, it's a lot easier.

I had stoma surgery five years ago and it's permanent. I'm completely used to it now and I realized that if I hadn't had the surgery, I would have lost my life due to cancer. When the choice is between death and life, you always choose life and a stoma bag is such a small price to pay!


I don't know all the details but my best friend's mom had to get an ileostomy surgery last year. I think she had this opening for about six months after which her doctors reversed it. They had to do this because she was diagnosed with bowel cancer and they needed to keep her bowels clean during her treatment.

My friend was talking about how hard it was for her mom. I think more than anything, her mom became really sad and felt bad about herself because of the stoma bag. I'm glad that it was just temporary and she's back to her old self now.

I know that this surgery is necessary in many situations, and it's not that big of a deal if the person doesn't let it get to them. But if they lose their confidence and self-esteem because of it, then I think it's a problem.

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