Ostomy: Definition, Indications, Types, and Care Instructions for This Medical Procedure

It is a cavity created to join an internal body part with the exterior.

An ostomy is a surgically created opening in the abdomen that allows stool or urine to flow out of the body from the gastrointestinal tract or urinary tract.

A portion of the intestine is brought to the surface of the abdomen and sutured in place. The part of the intestine in the stomach is called a stoma. A pouching system or ” ostomy bag ” is used outside the body to collect stool or urine.

In some cases, it is possible to have a diversion ostomy, an alternative to a conventional ostomy, which eliminates the need for an external pouch; however, there will still be a visible stoma on the abdomen.

When is an ostomy performed?

An ostomy may be necessary due to congenital disabilities, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, incontinence, and other medical conditions.

They are also required in cases of severe abdominal or pelvic trauma resulting from accidents or injuries sustained during military service.

Types of ostomies


A colostomy forms a stoma of the colon or large intestine. A slight bulge from the intestine is bought through the abdominal wall and attached to the outer skin to create a waste outlet.



An ileostomy is the open end of the ileum (small intestine) bought on the surface of the abdomen and secured there to form a waste outlet.

Surgery often involves the removal of the colon and rectum.

The most common conditions that require ileostomy formation are:

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Cancer in the colon or rectum.
  • Polyps in the colon or rectum.
  • Other rarer causes.


A urinary diversion is necessary when the bladder is removed, or urine cannot be stored. This can be an ileal conduit (non-continental deviation) or an Indiana pocket (continental deviation).

An ileal or Indiana conduit is formed from a small section of the small intestine (ileum) into which the ureters that carry urine from the kidneys are implanted.

A small section of the ileum carries urine to the stoma.

The most common causes are:

  • Cancer of the bladder or urethra.
  • Congenital abnormality.
  • Other rarer causes.

Care instructions

When part of your intestine is not working the way it should, a doctor may perform surgery to make an opening in your abdomen and bring a part of your intestine to the surface of your skin.

With an ostomy, waste no longer leaves your body through the anus. It goes your body through the part of your intestine at the ostomy opening. This part of the intestine is called a stoma.

There is no muscle around the stoma. So you can’t control when waste or gas leaves your body. Your waste automatically goes from the stoma into a plastic bag (bag) around the stoma.

This bag will block the odor of the waste. You can’t see when you’re wearing clothes.

You can learn how to take care of your ostomy. Good maintenance can make a living with a stoma easier. It can help maintain a good seal between the skin and the pouch. This can prevent your skin from becoming irritated.

Follow-up care is a vital part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to keep all your appointments and keep them, and call your doctor or nurse if you have problems.

Knowing your test results and keeping a list of your medications is also a good idea.

How can you take care of yourself at home?

You should treat your skin if the skin under your pouch is red, irritated, or itchy.

Follow these steps:

  • Gently remove the bag.
  • Clean the skin under the load with water.
  • Dry the skin.
  • Sprinkle ostomy powder on the skin. Then gently wipe off the extra powder.
  • Replace or replace the bag.

If you continue to have skin irritation, talk to your ostomy nurse.

Follow all instructions from your ostomy nurse.

Empty and replace your ostomy bag as often as your nurse recommends.

Be safe with medications. Take your medications exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you have a problem with your medicine. You will get more details about the specific medications your doctor prescribes for you.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse, call the line now, or seek immediate medical attention if:

  • You are vomiting.
  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You have a fever.
  • You cannot pass stool or gas.

Pay particular attention to changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your stoma turns pale or changes color.
  • Your stoma swells or bleeds.
  • You have little to no waste going into your bag.