A stoma is a surgically made opening of the bowel on the front the abdomen, generally created during an operation for the purpose of collecting either faeces or urine.

Stomas that collect faeces are made by delivering the end of the bowel through the abdominal wall.

The options are either the large bowel (a colostomy) or small bowel (an ileostomy).

Stomas that collect urine are also created from the bowel however they are from an isolated section.

The bladder is by-passed by connecting the ureters to the stoma in order that urine from the kidneys passes through the stoma, – this is called a urostomy or ileal conduit.

Waste products will pass through the stoma and collected in a reservoir bag which is placed over the stoma on the outside of your body.

A stoma can be either temporary with a view of being reversed at later date. It can also be permanent, this clearly depends on the type of operation and which part of the bowel or urinary tract has been removed.

The location of the stoma also depends on the type of operation but generally it is put in the lower part of abdomen to one side.

A stoma will always be moist and can also bleed if touched. It may protrude a few centimetres from the surface of the abdomen.