What is a stoma?

A stoma is a surgically-created opening in the abdominal wall for the passing of faeces or urine when normal function is no longer possible due to illness, accident or birth defect. A stoma from the  large bowel (colon) is called a colostomy, a stoma from the ileum  small bowel is called an ileostomy, and a stoma replacing the bladder is called a urostomy.

The stoma itself is around  on average the size of a 20-cent piece. It has no feeling and is made of the same type of tissue as the inside of your mouth, making it soft, moist and red.

An ostomy appliance, also called a ‘bag’, is placed over the stoma to catch waste. There are many different types of appliances available to ostomates depending on the type and placement of the stoma.

While stomas were once permanent, recent years have seen great improvements in procedures, meaning some stomas are now temporary and can be reversed.