Everything you need to know about digestive and urinary stomas!

Published Jul 24, 2023 • By Polina Kochetkova

The gastrointestinal tract is another name for the digestive system. It is the area of the body that breaks down meals and creates waste. In some cases, in order to ensure correct work of the gastrointestinal tract a stoma is required. This surgical procedure is often used when facing conditions like ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, spinal cord damage and more.

What is a stoma? What are the different types of stomas? How to live with a stoma?

Discover in this article!

Everything you need to know about digestive and urinary stomas!

What is a digestive/urinary stoma?

When the natural path of elimination is hampered or disrupted, surgically made apertures called "digestive stomas" are used to redirect the flow of waste products from the body. These stomas offer a way for stool or urine evacuation from the urinary or digestive systems directly to a collection bag outside the body. They are frequently utilized to control a range of medical disorders and enhance the quality of life for those who need them.

Approximately 100,000 people in the United States undergo operations that result in a colostomy or ileostomy each year, with colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and accidental damage being the most prevalent causes for stoma surgery.

What are the types of digestive/urinary stomas?

There are several types of digestive stomas, each serving a specific purpose based on the underlying medical condition. The most common types include:


When a portion of the colon is brought to the surface of the abdomen, a colostomy is formed, allowing stool to leave the body through a stoma. In situations of diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or colon cancer, this technique is frequently used. There are two types of colostomies:

End colostomy

An end colostomy involves pulling out one end of the colon through an incision in your abdomen and sewing it to the skin to form a stoma.

End colostomies are frequently permanent. Emergency situations may call for temporary end colostomies.

Loop colostomy

A loop of your colon is taken out through an incision in your abdomen during a loop colostomy. A stoma, or opening, is created by opening the loop and stitching it to your skin.

The stoma features two close-together holes. One is attached to the portion of your colon that is active and where waste exits your body following surgery.

The other opening connects to the inactive part of the bowel, leading to the anus.

While the loop of the colon heals, a support device (a rod or bridge) may occasionally be needed to maintain the loop in place. Usually, it is taken off after a few days.


The ileum, which is the end of the small intestine, is brought to the abdominal surface during an ileostomy. The stool can now leave the body because the big intestine (colon) has been bypassed. Ileostomies are frequently carried out for diseases such familial adenomatous polyposis, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis.

End ileostomy

The ileum is pulled through and attached to your abdomen at one end. This may be either long-term or temporary. The other affected portion of the bowel is often either removed or let to heal before being rejoined.

Loop ileostomy

A looped section of your ileum is moved through to your abdomen during a loop ileostomy. To maintain the loop above the skin's surface, an incision is created in it, and a rod is then used to stitch it to your stomach. In emergency situations, a loop ileostomy is often a temporary solution that will be removed after a few weeks or months.


A urostomy is created when the urinary system is redirected through a stoma.

A stoma will be created by pulling a small portion of your bowel through an abdominal incision and sewing it to your stomach. The urostomy will next be created by cutting the ureters from the bladder and joining them to the bowel fragment. It is frequently used in cases of bladder cancer, spinal cord damage, or specific urinary system birth abnormalities.

How to take care of a digestive/urinary stoma?

Proper stoma care is essential to maintain the health and functionality of the stoma. Here are some important considerations:

It is vital to clean a stoma properly. Warm water and a gentle, non-irritating cleaner should be used to frequently clean the stoma and the skin around it. Avoid using harsh chemicals, alcohol, or soaps since they can harm sensitive stoma tissue.

It's essential to collect waste using a stoma appliance or bag. These devices are made to fit securely over the stoma, stopping leaks and giving those using them comfort and discretion.

Depending on the type of stoma, certain dietary adjustments may be necessary. A healthcare professional can provide guidance on appropriate food choices and hydration levels to prevent complications and maintain a healthy digestive system.

While digestive stomas can significantly improve a person's quality of life, they may present certain challenges and complications, including:

Psychological effects of a digestive stoma

For some people, adjusting to life with a stoma can be emotionally difficult. People who have a stoma can get support from medical specialists, stoma support groups, and counseling programs to help them deal with the psychological effects of having one.

Skin irritation

Skin irritation or deterioration near the stoma site might result from improper stoma care or improperly fitted appliances. Such problems can be avoided with routine appliance maintenance and adjusting.


Individuals with digestive stomas may be at an increased risk of dehydration due to a higher fluid loss through the stoma. Maintaining adequate hydration is essential to prevent complications.

How to live with a digestive/urinary stoma?

A digestive stoma demands adaptation and assistance to live with. However, with the correct tools and information, many people may live full and active lives. Here are a few guidelines to consider when handling a digestive stoma:

Remember the importance of education and support. You can seek information from healthcare professionals, stoma care nurses, and support groups to understand your condition and learn proper stoma care techniques.

Make sure to follow up with your doctor regarding your stoma management. Schedule regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare team to monitor the stoma's function, address concerns, and make any necessary adjustments.

Don't hesitate to seek emotional support. Many individuals find it helpful to connect with others who have stomas, participate in support groups, or seek counseling to manage the emotional aspects of living with a stoma.

Key takeaway

In conclusion, digestive stomas are surgical procedures that give people with harmed digestive or urinary systems an alternate means of waste removal. Despite potential difficulties, people with stomas can enjoy happy lives with the right care and assistance. People can effectively manage their condition and maintain their general well-being by learning about the many forms of stomas, practicing good stoma care, and getting support when necessary.

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avatar Polina Kochetkova

Author: Polina Kochetkova, Health Writer

Polina is a content creator at Carenity, specialised in health writing. Polina is pursuing her bachelors in fashion marketing from IFA Paris University and in her spare time loves to play tennis and listen to music.

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