Ostomy Info

Normal Digestive System

Small Intestine:

Approximately 20 feet long, consisting of:

  • Duodenum (first part) 10-12 inches beginning at the outlet of the stomach.
  • Jejunum (second part), about 8-9 feet.
  • Ileum (third part) about 12 feet, connected to the large intestine at the cecum.

Food nutrients are digested and absorbed in the small intestine as food is moved through by peristalsis.

Large Intestine:

Approximately 5-6 feet long, consisting of:

  • Cecum – contains the ileocecal valve, which prevents reflux into the ileum; contents are highly acidic liquid.
  • Ascending colon – contents are acidic liquid.
  • Transverse colon – contents are less acidic liquid.
  • Descending/sigmoid colon – contents become more formed.
  • Rectum – formed stool.

The primary functions of the large intestine are absorption of water and electrolytes, transport of stool by peristalsis, and storage of digestive waste until it is eliminated from the body.


A surgically created opening in the abdominal wall through which digested food passes. The end of the ileum (the lowest part of the small intestine) is brought through the abdominal wall to form a stoma. An ileostomy may be performed when a disease or injured colon cannot be treated successfully with medicine.

Reasons for surgery:
 Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, familial polyposis.

Care of ileostomy:
 A pouching system is worn. Pouches are odor free and different manufacturers have disposable or reusable varieties to fit your lifestyle. Ostomy supplies are available at drug stores, ostomy supply houses and through the mail.

Living with an ileostomy:

Work: With the possible exception of jobs requiring very heavy lifting, an ileostomy should not interfere with work. People with ileostomies are successful business people, teachers, carpenters, welders, etc.

Sex and social life: Physically, the creation of an ileostomy usually does not affect sexual function. If there is a problem, it is almost always related to the removal of the rectum. The ileostomy itself should not interfere with normal sexual activity or pregnancy. It does not prevent one from dating, marriage or having children.

Clothing: Usually one is able to wear the same clothing as before surgery including swimwear.
Sports and activities: With a securely attached pouch one can swim, camp out, play baseball and participate in practically all types of sports. Caution is advised in heavy body contact sports. Travel is not restricted in any way. Bathing and showering may be done with or without the pouch in place.

Diet: Usually there are no dietary restrictions and foods can be enjoyed as before.

Resources available:
 The physician and medical professionals are the first source of help. Specially trained nurses called Wound, Ostomy Continence Nurses (WOCN) are available for consultation in most major medical centers.  Visit the UOAA web site at www.ostomy.org. It contains a great deal of information and discussion boards and many links to other sites, suppliers and resources.


A urostomy (urinary diversion) is one of a number of surgical procedures which divert urine away from a diseased or defective bladder. Cancer, birth defects, spinal cord injury and interstitial cystitis are the most common diseases that lead to urostomies 
These operations bring urine to the outside of the body through an opening on the abdominal wall. This opening is called a stoma. The stoma is actually the lining of the intestine, which is similar to the lining of your mouth and is pink and moist. 
There is no voluntary control of the urine therefore a collection device (pouch) is necessary for management. The function of the kidneys is not changed by the urostomy.
The urostomy pouch is usually emptied when 1/3rd full. Generally trips to the bathroom are not increased by the presence of a urostomy. The pouch should be connected to a larger collection container at night to insure a good night sleep and reduce the time urine stays in the pouch. This reduces the potential for urinary tract infections.


A Colostomy is an opening in the large intestine (colon), through the abdominal wall. This opening is called a stoma. The stoma is actually the lining of the intestine, which is similar to the lining of your mouth and is pink and moist.

Colostomy surgery is performed for many different diseases and conditions. These include cancer of the colon, rectum or anus, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, trauma and birth defects. Colostomies can be temporary or permanent. Temporary colostomies may be necessary to protect a section of colon during healing.

The colostomy functions similarly to the natural bowel. The body’s chemistry, digestive function and ability to nourish itself are usually not altered by it. However, because there is no muscle left to control the expelling of stool or gas, a protective collection device (pouch) is necessary for management. Consistency of colostomy output will depend on where in the large intestine the stoma is constructed, diet, medication and other factors.

Some colostomy patients chose to regulate their bowel function by diet or routine irrigations of the stoma. Irrigation is similar to an enema and causes the bowel to evacuate at a given time and place.

There are three types of colostomies – ascending, transverse, and descending.

Tranverse Colostomy:


  • Diverticulitis.
  • Trauma (injury).
  • Birth Defects.
  • Cancer/descending or sigmoid colon.
  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Paralysis.


  • Semi-solid.
  • Unpredictable.
  • Contains some digestive enzymes.


  • Skin protection.
  • Drainable pouch.
  • Closed-end pouch for convenience or special moments.

Descending Colostomy:


  • Cancer of rectum or sigmoid colon.
  • Diverticulitis.
Trauma (injury).
  • Congenital defects.
  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Paralysis.


  • Resembles normal bowel movements.
  • Regulated in some persons, not in others.