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Teenagers - What is a stoma?

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When you first hear that you will need a colostomy it is likely to be a challenging time for you. But don’t worry − eventually, dealing with it will become part of your normal daily routine.

The word ‘stoma’ comes from the Greek word meaning ‘mouth’ or ‘opening’. The three main kinds of stoma are colostomy, ileostomy and urostomy.

Simplified diagram of the digestive system

Simplified diagram of the digestive system

A colostomy is an opening created in the colon (the large intestine), (3) diverting it outside the body, often on the left hand side of the torso. This can be necessary if part of the rectum (4) and/or colon needs to be removed or bypassed. Waste matter (faeces) comes out of the stoma and collects in a stoma pouch that is attached around it.

The surgeon will move the end of the ileum (part of the small intestine) (2) to the surface of the abdomen – the end of the ileum is the stoma.

Instead of being passed via the bladder, urine is diverted to come out via a stoma elsewhere. A watertight pouch is fitted over the stoma to collect the urine.

When you are changing your stoma bag, you might be alarmed to find that your stoma bleeds a little. Don't worry, this is quite normal - though you might want to try being as gentle as you can. Contact your stoma nurse if there is blood in your stoma bag.


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