There are different types of ostomies for different lifestyles and gastrointestinal conditions, each with its own unique considerations.
An ostomy can be a life-saving surgery, but how exactly does it work? There are different types of ostomy procedures designed to address various gastrointestinal problems — such as Crohn’s disease, cancer, or ulcerative colitis — as well as different options to fit your lifestyle.
A typical ostomy requires a surgeon to create an opening, called a stoma, in the abdomen. The stoma allows bodily waste, like fecal matter and urine, to exit through the abdomen and collect in an ostomy bag outside the body. However, not all ostomies require patients to wear an ostomy bag. To set the record straight, here are the most common types of ostomies, and how they function.
A “conventional ostomy” is a broad term for ostomies that use an ostomy bag to drain fecal matter, urine, or both from a stoma in your abdomen.
A stoma precedes the area of your digestive tract that has been surgically removed, or surgically closed up. There are many reasons why you might need to remove an area of your digestive tract, including cancer, incontinence, a birth defect, or other conditions that make it difficult or impossible to release bodily waste.
Each type of conventional ostomy is named after the region of your gastrointestinal tract where the stoma occurs. For example, a colostomy is the name for an ostomy that opens a stoma in your colon, while an ileostomy affects your ileum (the lower part of your small intestine). You might also hear the term “urostomy,” which refers to any kind of ostomy specifically intended to dispose of urine.
No matter where your stoma is located, or what type of fluid your ostomy is designed to drain, all conventional ostomies share one factor — the ostomy bag. Also known as the “ostomy pouch,” this is a reusable, flexible plastic container that attaches seamlessly to your stoma. Modern technology allows your ostomy bag to be completely odorless in daily life. If odor lingers after you empty the bag, your doctor can recommend various odor-reducing sprays and strategies to minimize the scent of your ostomy drainage.
A J-pouch is an alternative to a conventional ostomy. This procedure allows your waste matter to be stored in a surgically-created cavity on the inside of your body, instead of in an exterior ostomy pouch. Your J-pouch is usually made from a relocated portion of your small intestine that may require an ostomy pouch at first. In many cases, a J-pouch can allow you to return to expelling waste through the anus over time.
Continent ostomies, like the J-pouch, are another way to avoid using an ostomy pouch. There are several types of continent ostomies, including the BCIR (Barnett Continent Intestinal Reservoir) and Kock ostomies. Similar to a J-pouch, a continent ostomy allows you to store waste in a new pouch on the inside of your abdomen, created from either your large or small intestine. A few times a day, instead of emptying an ostomy pouch, you will need to drain your continent ostomy through a drainage tube.
If you need an ostomy, you’re not alone. According to the United Ostomy Association of America, over 750,000 Americans have ostomies. If you are one of them, there’s no need for alarm. People with ostomies can continue to do almost everything they loved to do before their operation. To learn more, schedule an appointment with Dr. Don Schiller at the Center for Ileostomy Surgery today.