What a Difference a Name Makes

What a Difference a Name Makes

Colostomy, Ileostomy, Urostomy what do each of these mean? 

The ending (ostomy) means the surgery that makes an opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes.  The beginning of each name tells us the part of the bowel/intestine or body organ used.


A colostomy is when a piece of the colon (lower part of the large bowel/intestine) is surgically made to come through the abdomen to the skin level to form a stoma. Colostomy movements will be formed. A colostomy may be temporary or permanent. 

Temporary means it can at some point be surgically reconnected. Permanent colostomy may be necessary in cases of severe trauma to the abdomen, or when it is necessary to remove the rectum (end of the large bowel/intestine).               


An ileostomy is when the ileum, a portion of the lowest part of the small intestine,  is surgically made to come through the abdomen to skin level creating a stoma. An ileostomy is usually on the lower right side of the body. Through an ileostomy the bowel movements are liquid to pasty. With an ileostomy there is no pattern to movement it is constant.  Ileostomies can also be temporary or permanent depending on the reason they are made


A urostomy, also called ileal conduit, is when the surgeon cuts a length of bowel from either the large or small bowel/intestine to use as a tube or conduit. The surgeon stitches shut one end of the bowel piece that sits in the abdomen and forms a stoma with the piece at the skin level. The surgeon then attaches the ureter from the kidneys to the piece of bowel to allow the urine to bypass the bladder and drain from the stoma.  With a urostomy the discharge is urine but may have some mucous present due to the natural production of mucous within the bowel piece. A urostomy is permanent.    

Colostomy, ileostomy and urostomy all have stomas on the skin surface.  The type of ostomy a person has depends on the piece of bowel used or the reason it is formed.

The stoma is the lining of the bowel/intestine folded outwards and attached to the skin.  The stoma will be pink or red, moist, warm and may bleed slightly when touched. The stoma has no muscle shut off or valve to control drainage flow.  There are no nerve endings in the stoma so there should be no pain or discomfort from the stoma itself. The stoma can be different sizes and shapes.  Some stomas are outwards above the skin surface, some even to skin surface or sometimes below the skin surface.                                                                            

By Diane Mirlocca RN, WOCN, IIWCC

Diane is a registered nurse (RN) with over 30 years of healthcare experience   specializing in wound and ostomy. Her sense of humour and practicality has helped hundreds of ostomates patients live richer lives.                                







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