Whether your ostomy is new or you have lived with it for some time, ongoing education can help make your life easier. Understanding how to care for your stoma and the related products will be something your physician and WOC Nurse will review with you, but a lot of information will come to you early on and some details may be fuzzy in the days or months after your surgery. The information below is intended to be educational to help you with the details of living with a stoma. Always confer with your physician or nurse if an issue impacts your health and well-being.
General Ostomy Information
Ostomies and Stomas
An ostomy is a surgically created opening, referred to as a stoma, on the abdomen to allow elimination of bodily waste, urine, or stool. The stoma is part of an ostomy that is visible on one’s abdomen and through which bodily waste, stool, or urine exits the body. A stoma is bright red, has no sensation, can be flush, or protrude above the skin surface.
Types of Ostomy
An ileostomy is an opening in the abdominal wall where the end of the ileum (the lowest part of the small intestine) is brought through the opening to create a stoma.
A colostomy is when the colon (large intestine) is brought through the abdominal wall to create a stoma. Colostomies can be permanent or temporary depending on the diagnosis and reason it was created.
A urostomy is an opening in the abdominal wall creating a stoma for the elimination of urine.
An ostomy pouch is a medical device that provides a means for the collection of waste from a stoma. A WOC (Wound, Ostomy, and Continence) Nurse will assist in identifying the appropriate pouch based on your ostomy procedure.
One Piece vs. Two Piece
1 piece: This system is a product where the base plate/flange is attached to the pouch.
2 piece: This system has two parts. The first one is called the base plate/flange, and the second one is a pouch that has to be snapped or attached to the base plate. This kind of system allows you to use different types of pouches based on your preference.
Beige vs. Transparent Pouch
A transparent pouch is helpful for someone who is monitoring his/her stoma or color of output. A beige or opaque pouch may be used for more discretion or for personal preference.
Drainable (Roll'Up) Pouch vs. Closed Pouch
In general, closed pouches are used by colostomates as the stool is semi-formed to formed, and drainable (Roll’Up) pouches are used by ileostomates as the stool is usually soft to semi-formed. Using a closed or drainable pouch may also be a personal preference.
Cut-to-Fit Base Plate vs. Pre-Cut Base Plate
Cut-to-fit base plates have a pre-cut stoma opening, normally starting with a ¼” diameter (varies depending on the manufacturer). This type of base plate allows the ostomate to custom cut the base plate depending on stoma size, especially after the initial surgery when the stoma shrinks. The stoma can shrink for up to eight weeks after surgery.
Pre-cut base plates are available in multiple pre-cut stoma opening sizes to accommodate those ostomates whose stoma is a consistent size or for personal preference.
Flat Base Plate vs. Convex Base Plate
A flat base plate is recommended if your peristomal skin surface is flat and the stoma is well budded, protruding at least ½” above the abdomen. A convex base plate is recommended if your peristomal skin surface is concave, flush, or your stoma is short.
Not everyone needs to wear an ostomy belt. The ostomy belt is designed to provide extra security and support; it is a personal preference. The belt is designed to be adjustable so you can find the optimal fit and comfort.