A stoma is created when a person undergoes a surgical procedure which results in a section of the bowel being brought to the surface of the abdominal wall. The bowel is opened and formed into a stoma, which will discharge faecal matter or urine, depending upon the type of surgery. A collection pouch is fitted over the stoma to collect the material coming through this alternative elimination site.

  • People of all ages may require a stoma, from new born babies to the very elderly
  • The stoma may be permanent or temporary
  • Stomas can be created anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract, depending upon where the problem occurs
  • Most people learn to manage the daily care of the stoma as part of their usual hygiene routine
  • A return to a normal diet is to be expected
  • People with stomas can return to work, recreation, parenthood and travel – in fact, almost everything they would want to do
  • In Australia, there is a governmental scheme to subsidise the equipment required called the Stoma Appliance Scheme
  • It’s very rare that a stoma can be seen under clothes and so no-one else needs to know that you have a stoma if you choose not to share this information

A person might have stoma surgery as treatment for:

  • Trauma to the abdomen
  • Some cancers of the bowel, bladder or pelvic organs
  • Diseases such as diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Some uncommon familial disorders
  • Some neurological disorders where toileting is complicated
  • Degenerative changes in the bowel’s blood supply in preterm babies or the elderly
  • After-effects of some radiation therapy to the pelvis

The important thing to remember is that stoma surgery is life saving surgery.

The most common types of stoma are:

Less common types of stoma are: