Colostomy, Ileostomy, Urostomy and Vesicostomy
This information sheet is an introduction to having an ostomy, and should be used as a brief guide to having a stoma, or ostomy.
“Stoma” simply means opening. A stoma allows access to the bowel or bladder via an opening on to the abdomen. The contents of the bladder (wee) or bowel (poo) then empty into a special bag that sticks on to the abdomen (tummy), and fits around the stoma. This is emptied or changed regularly as necessary. A stoma is one way of managing continence, but usually other methods would be tried first. Stomas may be temporary or permanent.
Preparation for surgery
People undergoing surgery to form a stoma will need some preparation before the operation. This will depend on the type of surgeryand the consultant carrying out the operation. You should expect to be able to discuss the surgery fully beforehand and ask any questions you may have. You should be introduced to your specialist stoma nurse who will be supporting you and will explain what will happen during the hospital stay. This nurse will teach you how to look after your stoma before you go home, and will make sure you know who to contact if you need help or advice after you go home.
Some food and drinks may cause excess wind or looser motions. You may need to experiment and find out what affects you. It is best to eat a normal diet if possible.
If you have an ileostomy, some foods can cause a blockage if you don’t chew them well. You may need to avoid pulses, dried fruit, nuts, coconut, and popcorn. Some foods like tomato skins and pips may pass into the bag unaltered. You can ask your stoma nurse for a diet advice sheet.
If you had a urostomy, you must make sure that you drink enough liquid. Drinking cranberry juice is helpful in preventing infections. However, it is not recommended if you take blood thinning medications such as warfarin or coumadin. Some foods like beetroot may colour your urine, but won’t cause any harm.
Looking after the stoma
Whilst you are in hospital, the nurses will teach you to look after your stoma. They will teach you how to empty and change the stoma bag and how to care for the skin around the stoma. There are many different stoma bags, and your stoma nurse will help you to find the one that is best for you. Your nurse will also explain how to store your stoma bags at home, and how to dispose of them.
You will be given some bags to take home, and after that, further supplies are available on prescription. You can then get the products from your local chemist; or you can use a home delivery service if you find it more convenient. This service won’t cost you anything.
You won’t have to pay prescription charges for stoma products, but if you are over 16 years old, or under 60 years old, you will need to apply for a Prescription Exemption Certificate. You can get a form to apply for this from your doctor or chemist.
If you have a stoma or are considering surgery, you may find a local group of other patients a useful source of information, advice, and support. Details of local groups can be obtained from the national organizations who are also able to give information and support.