What is a Stoma?

A stoma is created when a person undergoes a surgical procedure which results in a section of the bowel being brought to the surface of the abdominal wall.

The bowel is opened and formed into a stoma, which will discharge faecal matter or urine, depending upon the type of surgery. A collection pouch is fitted over the stoma to collect the material coming through this alternative elimination site.

  • People of all ages may require a stoma, from new born babies to the very elderly
  • The stoma may be permanent, but most are temporary
  • Stomas can be created anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract, depending upon where the problem occurs
  • Most people learn to manage the daily care of the stoma as part of their usual hygiene routine
  • A return to a normal diet is to be expected
  • People with stomas can return to work, recreation, parenthood and travel – in fact, almost everything they would want to do
  • There is a governmental scheme to subsidise the equipment required
  • No-one else needs to know that there is a stoma

Reasons for the formation of a stoma include:

  • Trauma to the abdomen
  • Some cancers of the bowel, bladder or pelvic organs
  • Diseases such as diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Some uncommon familial disorders
  • Some neurological disorders where toileting is complicated
  • Degenerative changes in the bowel’s blood supply in preterm babies or the elderly
  • After-effects of some radiation therapy to the pelvis

A person who is likely to require a stoma is (ideally) seen by a Stomal Therapy Nurse (STN) pre-operatively. (The STN is a specialist nurse who is experienced in caring for people requiring this type of surgery.)

Preoperative discussion points:

  • what to expect in hospital
  • identification of where the stoma will be situated
  • management of the stoma
  • available support when returning home

Post-operatively, the STN will:

  • support the person and their family emotionally
  • teach the daily care of the stoma
  • assist the preparation for going home
  • arrange ongoing support and supplies in the community

Many well known people in the world have had, or still have, a stoma. It has been said that having a stoma is “a beginning, not an end” to life.

For many people the stoma gives a new lease of life, whilst for others it relieves some of the problems they have had. It is certainly lifesaving for many.

Website policies

Current AASTN policies relating to the website are listed below.  These may be updated in the future.

Privacy Policy

Get in Touch

The AASTN website is not able to respond to medical enquiries.

Please use Find a STN from the main menu for a professional consultation.

For feedback and general enquiries, please email us.

Feedback form - please give us your suggestions and comments about AASTN website