What is a Stoma?
A stoma is formed when part of the bowel has been removed and the end is brought out onto the surface of your abdomen providing an exit point for faeces. The opening is called a stoma and it is red and moist like the inside of your cheek. A stoma can be temporary or permanent.
If temporary, it does require an operation to reverse/rejoin the bowel, this will be some months after the initial surgery. This can be discussed with your surgeon during a post-discharge consultation.
A stoma does not have nerve endings, so is not painful to touch. There are no muscles around your stoma as there are around your anus to control the flow so you will need to wear a specialised bag over your stoma to collect the faeces. The output may be runny or solid so you will be provided with a closed or drainable bag depending on the consistency. The bag sticks to your tummy and is changed every 1-2 days.
If you have a stoma, a specialist nurse called a Stomal Therapy Nurse will give you education and support on how to care for this. The Stomal Therapy Nurse will put a mark on your tummy (abdominal wall) before your operation so that the stoma (if it is required) is positioned in a place where you will be able to see it to manage yourself.
You will be joined to a specialist association to obtain a free supply of bags via the Stoma Appliance Scheme. A small fee will be required to join.
When you are discharged home, the Stomal Therapy Nurse will continue to support you. If you are from outside the local area we will put you in contact with your nearest Stomal Therapy Nurse.
The St George Hospital Stomal Therapy Department can be contacted on (02) 9113 3519 if you require any further information.