A stoma is an opening in the abdomen to allow bodily wastes to leave your body. It becomes necessary when your bladder or a part of the bowel is unable to perform its function or is surgically removed.
The surgical procedure of creating a stoma involves your surgeon pulling out a part of the small or large intestine through a cut in the belly. That gives the internal diversion an opening to expel bodily wastes. The surgeon sutures the edges of the bowel with the abdominal skin to create a stoma.
A stoma is usually rounded, moist, red, and soft to touch. It is generally 1-2 inches wide.
A stoma can be permanent or temporary. In case of permanent damage to an organ in your digestive tract, you will need a permanent stoma. However, you will need a temporary stoma if that organ or a part of the bowel needs to rest and heal.
Different types of stoma
Depending on the procedure involved in the creation, stomas can be of different types.
- Colostomy: Colostomy is a stoma created on the colon. It essentially bypasses the rectum. In some cases, the surgeon may choose to remove the lower part of the colon, creating a permanent stoma. In many cases, the stoma on the colon is temporary. Its purpose is to allow the diseased part of the colon to heal.
- Urostomy: This ostomy involves the creation of a conduit using a piece of the small intestine. This conduit acts as a passageway between ureters and the outside of the body. This stoma bypasses the bladder, which is either diseased or removed.
- Ileostomy: Sometimes, the entire colon might become unable to perform its function. To help you expel bodily wastes in this scenario, the surgeon will create a stoma on the small bowel, bypassing the colon and rectum. Conditions that may lead to an ileostomy include ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and bowel cancer.
No matter what stoma you get, your doctor will use one of two methods to create it.
- End Ostomy: An end ostomy is created by pulling out an end of the bowel through the abdominal wall. This stoma disconnects the healthy end of the bowel from the unhealthy one entirely.
- Loop ostomy: The surgeon will pull out a loop of the bowel through a cut in the belly to create a loop ostomy. This ostomy creates two openings, one for bodily wastes and one for mucus.
What to expect
Your surgeon will administer general anesthesia to put you to sleep during ostomy surgery. Its purpose is to make the surgical process pain-free. Surgery will involve the removal of the diseased or damaged part of the bowel before the stoma creation.
After surgery, your doctor and ostomy care nurse will give you instructions regarding how to care for your stoma. During the hospital stay, you will be under consistent monitoring of the surgical staff. They will make sure that you are recovering without showing any signs of complications.
The entire recovery phase may extend to 6-8 weeks. During this time, you will need to avoid eating anything that may cause a problem for your digestive system. You will also need to refrain from heavy lifting.
Once you are recovered, you will be allowed to eat pretty much everything you want and engage in your favorite physical activity. Nonetheless, it is necessary to discuss everything with your ostomy care nurse or healthcare provider.