Expert Health Articles


Pam Somers-Katherns, RN

What is an ostomy?

An ostomy is a surgically-created opening in the abdomen for the discharge of body waste. Through an opening called a stoma, which is the end of the small/large intestine, the body waste is collected in a pouch appliance that can be drained or changed.

When would an ostomy be needed?

A colostomy or urostomy may be indicated for someone who has experienced cancer of the lower rectal area, bowel or bladder. Usually a permanent placement, these procedures are most often planned. A temporary diversion and stoma placement may be needed due to a perforated bowel or intestine, or a chronic illness. This is usually an emergency situation. Incontinence of bodily waste that interferes with quality of life may also benefit from a stoma placement.   

If you need an ostomy, how will you be educated?

Patient and family teaching begins before surgery and continues throughout recovery in the hospital and rehabilitation after leaving the hospital. This is a major part of the nurse’s role. Getting proper education about your stoma is the single most important action toward independence, confidence and rehabilitation. Your nurse will provide education on stoma care, body image, lifestyle changes, application of pouch, etc. The patient’s success is dependent on both education and willingness to learn.

What about follow-up and/or support?

Immediately upon entering the hospital for this procedure, your nurse will begin planning for discharge and establishing goals for rehabilitation. He or she will complete an assessment of your financial, technical and emotional needs, along with community and home resources, and coordinate with social workers and the stoma nurse to ensure a positive outcome. Patients may follow up with the stoma nurse on an outpatient basis for problems or further education. In addition, many resources are available in the community for ostomy patients.

Are there support groups for those who have experienced an ostomy?

Findlay offers an Ostomy Support Group which provides tools of support to allow opportunity for growth, independence and knowledge of ostomy and stomal management. Join us every other month from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Aller/Beckett conference room at Blanchard Valley Hospital, 1900 S. Main Street, Findlay. Upcoming support group dates in include Wednesday, January 18 and Wednesday, March 22.