This series of ostomy care articles is authored by Jo Hoeflok, RN, BSN, MA, CETN(C), CGN(C), who is a Registered Nurse specializing in enterostomal therapy care. She currently is an Advanced Practice Nurse for the Gastroenterology and General Surgery Unit at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
If you have any questions about ostomies or ostomy care, please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to the GI Society, attention Jo Hoeflok. The information provided is not meant to replace care by or consultation with healthcare professionals.
What is an Ostomy?
The term ostomy refers to the surgical opening created for the elimination of body wastes. When the digestive system ceases to function properly due to disease or injury, a physician may recommend removing or bypassing portions of the small intestines or colon. When the surgeon removes or bypasses these sections, sometimes it may no longer be possible to eliminate waste (have a bowel movement) from the usual anatomic route. The surgeon will then re-direct the end of the remaining intestinal tract to the surface of the skin; this is called a "stoma" or ostomy. When the small intestine is brought through the abdominal wall, it is called an ileostomy and the colon brought through is called a colostomy. Ileostomies and colostomies may be either temporary or permanent, depending upon the particular situation.
Ostomy Topic List
Read more about living with an ostomy by following the links below. (Or see our external Ostomy Resources)