Stoma bag after colon surgery as medical patient drainage outlin

If you cannot have a bowel movement in the typical manner, your body still needs to remove waste. With an ostomy, the waste is evacuated into a pouch worn on your abdomen, which holds the stool or urine. People use ostomies to manage a variety of digestive, neurological, genital or urinary conditions. For example, you may need an ostomy if you’ve been in an accident or you have:

The surgical creation of an ostomy involves bringing a portion of either the small or large bowel through the abdominal wall so that waste can be evacuated from the body. The waste goes into a pouch once it leaves the body and is then emptied as needed.

For digestive conditions, surgeons use three types of ostomies. These include:
  • Colostomies – made from the colon
  • Jejunostomies – made from the middle section of the small intestine
  • Ileostomies – made from the last section of the small intestine

Living with an ostomy can take some adjustments, but after a time, people with ostomies lead active, fulfilled lives, free from the pain and discomfort of conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Just under 1 million people live with ostomies in North America today — they are sometimes known as “ostomates.”
Whether an ostomy is permanent or temporary, it is important to have community support, knowledgeable medical staff and online resources. The Colorectal Division of North Carolina Surgery at UNC REX is proud to provide support for patients living with ostomies and their families. These resources may help as you begin your journey as an ostomate: