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Buyer’s Guide: New to Ostomy

Ostonomy Buyer's Guide - Express Medical Supply>
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An ostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an artificial opening between an internal organ and the body surface. Ostomies are often created to allow waste to exit the body. The procedure may be necessary due to surgical removal of organs, incontinence, and birth defects.

This guide covers:   

  • What Is an Ostomy?
  • When Is an Ostomy Necessary?
  • What Are the Different Types of Ostomy Surgeries?
  • What Are the Potential Complications of an Ostomy?
  • Where Will the Stoma Be Placed?
  • What Are the Different Types of Ostomy Supplies?
  • Living with an Ostomy.

What Is an Ostomy?

An ostomy allows bodily waste (either from the intestine or urinary tract), to pass through an opening (stoma) and into an ostomy bag.
A stoma is an opening that is typically created by bringing a section of the intestine to the surface of the lower abdomen. Stool or urine flow occurs whenever any other digestive muscle contracts. The ostomy bag (also referred to as an ostomy pouch), is attached to the stoma and collects the waste diverted out of the urinary or digestive system
Ostomies are temporary when an organ needs to heal after a surgery. An ostomy is permanent when an organ (like the bladder or portions of the intestine) is removed.

When Is an Ostomy Necessary?

An ostomy is typically used when treating diseases of the rectum, bladder, colon, or small intestine. Some of the most common medical reasons for an ostomy surgery include ulcerative colitis, severe incontinence, Crohn’s disease, colon or bladder cancer, and severe injury/trauma to the bowel or urinary tract.

What Are the Different Types of Ostomy Surgeries?

There are generally three major ostomy types, depending on the body part they are affixed to: colostomy, ileostomy, and urostomy.

What Is a Colostomy?

Colostomies are used when a portion of the large intestine and/or colon is removed. The remainder of the colon is brought to the surface of the abdomen through a stoma. Based on the location, patients may have a descending, ascending, or transverse colostomy. A coloplast ostomy can be temporary or permanent, depending on whether the colon can be reconnected to the rectum. Partial large intestine removal is sometimes needed due to conditions such as rectal or colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and stool incontinence.

What Is an Ileostomy?

Ileostomy is a surgical procedure where the stoma is created at the end of the ileum (the last section of the small intestine). An ileostomy is usually performed when the rectum, anus, or colon are not able to process bodily waste due to disease or serious damage. Cancer and injury are common causes for an ileostomy, along with diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, and blockage-causing tumors. A temporary ileostomy may be performed when an inflamed or damaged colon/rectum only needs time to heal from surgery or injury.

What Is a Urostomy?

“Urostomy” is a term used for surgeries where the bladder is bypassed through a stoma. In most cases, a urostomy involves the removal of a part of the intestine, then attaching the ends of the ureters to it. Normally, ureters are connected to the kidneys and transport urine to the bladder. Some of the most common causes for urostomy include bladder cancer, serious kidney disease, trauma, surgical complications, or urinary incontinence.
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What Are the Potential Complications of an Ostomy?

Complications and side effects of ostomy may include diarrhea, rectal discharge, cramping, and abdominal pain. Monitor for skin irritation/allergy signs around the stoma and pouch, such as redness, swelling, or rash. To keep the skin from becoming irritated, it’s important to use the right ostomy pouch size, change your pouches regularly, and keep the skin around the stoma clean.
Allergies to the pouch material, adhesive, or barrier paste may develop over time. Contact your treating physician or nurse to determine whether you are allergic or sensitive to any of the products from your ostomy care.
Tell your pharmacist if you have an ostomy, as certain capsules and tablets may pass through the intestine too quickly to be absorbed.

Seek emergency medical attention if you experience:
  • Continuous nausea and/or vomiting
  • Changes in the color, shape, or size of the stoma
  • Obstruction and/or narrowing of the stoma

Where Is the Stoma Placed?

Though most stomas are bright red and moist, the shape and size of the stoma is unique to each individual.
The location of the stoma depends on the type of surgery. Most stomas are located in the lower abdomen, below the beltline. Colostomies are typically placed on the left-hand side of the lower abdomen, while ileostomies are placed on the right-hand side. In some cases, stomas may be placed in other locations due to various factors such as hernia or scar tissue.

What Are the Different Types of Ostomy Supplies?

An ostomy pouching system is the main accessory that you will need, though you may require additional ostomy products such as ostomy belts, pouch covers, skin barrier paste, tape, and tape remover.
Pouching systems are either one-piece or two-piece systems and include a wafer (skin barrier) and an ostomy bag. Ostomy wafers are barriers attached to the abdomen around the stoma, protecting the skin from the stoma output. The ostomy bag, or pouch, is connected to this wafer.
In one-piece systems, the ostomy wafer and ostomy bag are permanently connected together. In two-piece systems, though, the wafer is purchased separately from the ostomy pouch.
Ostomy bags are typically made of plastic and provide a secure way of collecting bodily waste. They are also waterproof and can be emptied/changed as needed. Ostomy deodorizing products are used to neutralize odors from the ostomy pouch.
In some cases of continent diversion surgeries, the ostomy pouch (also known as a J pouch and Indiana pouch) is created internally out of the individual’s bowel.
Ostomy pouch covers and belts are usually used to add a measure of comfort and security in your daily life. It is important that your ostomy pouch fits well. An ostomy belt is wrapped around the abdomen and can be used to hide or support the pouch. A pouch cover is placed over the ostomy bag and is often used during intimate occasions.
Ostomy tape is used to secure and support the wafer. To meet the needs of different skin sensitivities and allergies, tapes are made of a wide range of materials. Tape remover cleans adhesive residue from the skin.
Your set of ostomy supplies will help you keep the skin around the opening healthy and prevent irritations and infections. After surgery, your physician or ostomy nurse will instruct you on how to best take care of the stoma, prevent infections, and change your ostomy bag.

Living with an Ostomy

Ostomy surgery can occur at any age and it may take some getting used to at first. Most people experience only minor issues like skin irritation or tenderness around the stoma. If you have difficulties facing (or coping with) your surgery, a local ostomy support group may be able to provide you with both moral and educational support.
If you want to learn more about how the surgery will affect your day-to-day life, diet, intimacy, and physical activity, visit our ostomy blog section.
Individuals with an ostomy are able to eventually go back to work, participate in sports, travel, be intimate, and resume their regular lifestyle with few concessions. Ostomy pouches can be kept discreet with the help of an ostomy support belt and worn under loose clothing.
Life with an ostomy can be fulfilling and enjoyable with the right planning and preparation.

Have a look at our wide range of ostomy supplies and find the best fit for you!
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