The big question: What is an ostomy? Here’s your first lesson.
An ostomy is basically a non-natural opening in your body by which a person releases waste. Through this hole, the surgeon will pull the end of either your small/large intestine or ureter, thus creating a stoma. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, however, most often when someone is speaking about their ostomy, they are referring to the entire thing, but a stoma refers to the actual piece of organ that is outside of the body.
An external pouching system is used to collect the waste. In more simple terms, an adhesive bag covers the stoma and catches the poop or pee as it exits the body. The bags can then be changed out or emptied into a toilet.
There are 3 main types of ostomies: ileostomy (stoma is made from small intestine), colostomy (made from large intestine) and urostomy (made from the ureter and part of the small intestine). I’ll go into each of these in a little more detail later this week.
It doesn’t seem like particularly accurate calculations are kept, but it is believed that approximately 1 million people in the U.S. alone have an ostomy of some sort, with another 300,000 having surgery every year.
Reasons for needing an ostomy:
- Inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn’s disease & ulcerative colitis
- Colon cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Bowel obstruction
- Trauma, accident, birth defect, etc.
An ostomy can be temporary or permanent. A temporary ostomy may be used if the intestinal tract needs time to heal and can be reconnected in the future or it can also be used as the first step in a two-part surgery to form an internal pouch. A permanent ostomy is sometimes needed when the entire colon has been removed, or at the very least the rectum, or when a reconnection surgery is not possible.I do not pretend to have extensive medical knowledge, so some of this information was found online: UOAA, ASCRS, NIH