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What is an Ostomy and Why is it Important?

One of the most common procedures you’ll encounter inside a nursing home is that of an ostomy. While a person of any age may require the said procedure, it’s safe to say that it is more common in older adults, particularly senior citizens.

What is an ostomy and when is it necessary?

Below are several essential points you need to know about this medical procedure.

What is an Ostomy?

An ostomy is a procedure that aims to change the way urine or stool exits the body due to a surgical procedure. It reroutes the body waste from its usual path (either through the genitals or the anus) because of a part of the urinary or digestive system that’s not functioning as it should. An ostomy can be permanent or temporary depending on the body’s condition.

What is a Stoma?

A stoma, on the other hand, is an opening created by ostomy surgery. It can be found on the abdomen and is dark pink. A pouch is usually worn over the stoma as a means to collect stool or urine.

Why is Ostomy Necessary?

Ostomy is a life-saving procedure that allows body waste to pass through a stoma and then into a pouch called an ostomy bag which can be found outside of the body. The procedure may be necessary due to the following:

  • Birth defects

  • Cancer

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Diverticulitis

  • Severe abdominal or pelvic trauma

What’s good about ostomy is that it doesn’t lower life expectancy but gives the patient the start of a “new life,” so to speak.

Types of Ostomies

Ostomies can be classified into three types.


A colostomy is the surgically created opening of the large intestine (or the colon) through the abdomen. This is usually done when a portion of the colon or the rectum is removed and the remaining part is brought to the abdominal wall. The procedure may be permanent or temporary depending on the patient’s condition.


A urostomy is a surgically created opening in the belly or abdominal wall designed to redirect urine away from a bladder that is either already diseased, injured, or isn’t functioning the way it should. The bladder is either bypassed or removed. The most common urostomies are either the ileal or cecal conduit procedure.

A section at the end of the small bowel or the beginning of the large intestine may be surgically removed and relocated as a passageway or a conduit for urine to pass from the kidneys to the stoma.


An ileostomy, on the other hand, is a surgically created opening from the lowest part of the small intestine or ileum. This is done by bringing the intestine through the abdominal wall to create a stoma. Like other ostomies, an ileostomy can either be permanent or temporary and may even involve the removal of part of the colon or all of it.

Final Thoughts

A properly functioning urinary and digestive system is essential not just for good health but for the body to function as it should. Blockages or bowel obstructions can occur due to a variety of reasons which can keep the body from eliminating body waste and thus, make a person sick and inconvenient. It’s in instances like these where ostomies come in handy because it allows the urinary and digestive system to continue to function in an alternative way.

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