What Is an Ostomy?

The Definition of This Surgical Term

Surgeon making initial incision
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An ostomy is a surgically-created opening from an internal organ to the body's surface. Some examples of this include:

  • when a doctor performs a colostomy, and the ileostomy creates an opening to the outside of the abdomen to allow the stool to pass through.
  • when a doctor utilizes a urostomy to create an opening to the abdomen that allowa for a new way to pass urine.
  • when a doctor performs a tracheostomy in order to create an opening through the neck to allow for an alternate way of breathing.

    What Types of Procedures Require an Ostomy?

    Some of the most common types of ostomies are:

    Colostomy. The surgically created opening of the colon (large intestine) that results in a stoma. A colostomy is created when a portion of the colon or the rectum is removed and the remaining colon is brought to the abdominal wall. 

    Ileostomy. A surgically created opening in the small intestine, usually at the end of the ileum. The intestine is brought through the abdominal wall to form a stoma. Ileostomies may be temporary or permanent, and may involve removal of all or part of the entire colon.

    Urostomy. This is a general term for a surgical procedure that diverts urine away from a diseased or defective bladder. Either a section at the end of the small bowel (ileum) or at the beginning of the large intestine (cecum) is surgically removed and relocated as a passageway for urine to pass from the kidneys to the outside of the body through a stoma.

    It may include removal of the diseased bladder.

    How Will Having an Ostomy Improve Your Quality of Life?

    Learning that you have to get an ostomy can be upsetting. But this oftentimes necessary procedure can improve the way you're able to live your life. For many, ostomy surgery is even a life-saving surgery.

    Now that you have an ostomy, you can begin to live your life fully again. And you can do so in better health, uncurtailed by the symptoms of the condition that necessitated the ostomy in the first place.

    What Else Do I Need To Know?

    How to Change an Ostomy Appliance. Ostomy surgery is difficult to contemplate, but it improves the lives of many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other conditions, and in fact, saves lives as well. There are many types of ostomy products on the market today, and every person with an ostomy will probably use a different combination to get the right fit and to protect against leaks. However, there are a few commonalities, and the basic instructions on how to change an ostomy appliance that will apply to most situations. 

    Ostomy Tips and Tricks. There is a pretty steep learning curve for people who have had ostomy surgery. Not only in dealing with the physical aftermath of the surgery itself, but in learning an entirely new way to take care of oneself.

     Here are a few tips that should make life easier post-ostomy.

    Things People With An Ostomy Wished You Knew. Ostomy surgery is the target of many misconceptions, some of which are hurtful, and all of which are untrue. Here are the things that people who have an ostomy wish you knew about them.

    Ostomy Fashion Tips. Some suggestions for looking good with your ostomy.

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