What is a stoma?

Stoma is a Greek word meaning ‘mouth’ and is used to describe an artificially created opening from the gastrointestinal or urological tracts.

The three main types of abdominal stomas are:


what is a urostomy?

Find out more


what is a urostomy?

Find out more


what is a ileostomy?

Find out more

Overview of Gastrointestinal System

  • The gastrointestinal tract, leading from mouth to anus, is a hollow tube about 9.5 metres (31 feet) long.
  • Food, chewed and swallowed, travels down the part of the tube called the oesophagus into the stomach. There, it is mixed with gastric juices, which break down the food into a semi-solid mixture (chyme).
  • The chyme passes into the Ileum (small bowel) (duodenum, jejunum and ileum) where final stages of digestion take place.
  • Nutrients are absorbed through the bowel wall and into the bloodstream, to be distributed throughout the body.
  • The undigested food passes into the Colon (large bowel), where water and salts are reabsorbed.
  • The waste continues to move along the Colon (large bowel) via peristalsis and is stored in the rectum.
  • On defecation, the anal sphincter muscles relax and faeces are passed through the anus from the rectum.

The digestive system:

  • 1. Oesophagus
  • 2. Stomach
  • 3. Liver
  • 4. Ileum (small bowel)
  • 5. Ascending colon (large bowel)
  • 6. Transverse colon (large bowel)
  • 7. Descending colon (large bowel)
  • 8. Sigmoid colon (large bowel)
  • 9. Rectum
  • 10. Anus

Colorectal Conditions:

  • Colorectal Cancer - Colorectal cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 11% of all new cancer cases and is one of the most common causes of stoma formation. (Cancer Research UK, 2017).
  • Diverticular Disease - This is a condition of the colon (large bowel) where sacs or bags form, mainly in the wall of the sigmoid large bowel. The bags can become inflamed, infected or can perforate, causing pain and possible peritonitis. It is more common in elderly people living with a stoma.
  • Crohn’s Disease - Crohn’s disease is one of the inflammatory bowel diseases and causes inflammation, deep ulcers and scarring to the wall of the intestine. Crohn’s disease can affect anywhere from the mouth to the anus, but most commonly affects the ileum.
  • Ulcerative Colitis - Ulcerative colitis is another of the inflammatory bowel diseases. It results in inflammation and ulceration of the wall of the colon (large bowel) and rectum.
  • Faecal Incontinence - This is defined as passing faeces involuntarily. The primary causes include trauma to anal sphincters caused by a fistula/abscess, neurological disorders, faecal impaction, childbirth or haemorrhoidectomies.
  • Congenital Abnormalities - A birth defect or abnormality existing at or before birth. Such as Hirshprungs Disease, Imperforate anus and Cloaca.
  • Trauma - Accidental damage to the bowel and/or anal sphincters, which can be due to: Road traffic, industrial or other accidents, Stabbing or gunshot wounds, Spinal injuries or Surgical trauma.
  • Gynaecological Disorders - Due to Surgical trauma, Complication of extensive gynaecological cancers.
  • Radiation Damage - Due to radiotherapy treatment in the pelvic area.

Overview of urinary system

The urinary system removes a type of waste called urea from the blood, which is carried in the bloodstream to the kidneys. Urine is made by the kidneys and travels down two tubes, called the ureters, to the bladder. Nerves in the bladder let the brain know it is time to urinate, as the bladder fills. Urine then exits the body through the urethra.

The urinary system:

  • 1. Kidneys
  • 2. Ureters
  • 3. Small bowel (ileum)
  • 4. Bladder
  • 5. Urethra

Urinary Conditions:

  • Bladder Cancer - Bladder cancer is the tenth most common cancer in the UK and affects just over 10,000 people a year in the UK. It is more common in men than women. (Cancer Research UK, 2015).
  • Urinary Incontinence - This is defined as passing urine involuntarily. It can be caused by neurological disorders, trauma and gynaecological problems following childbirth.
  • Interstitial Cystitis - This is a painful condition due to chronic inflammation of the tissues of the bladder wall. The cause is unknown.

Our partners and accreditations

  • Medilink logo
  • BSF logo
  • SHA logo
  • Disability Confident Committed
  • BHTA logo
  • UTA logo
  • SGS logo

Our site uses cookies for marketing (if appropriate) and to improve your experience by allowing us to remember you and analyse how you use our site. To accept cookies click ‘Accept all cookies’. Alternatively, you can select only the 'essential cookies' required for the site. At any time you can click on our cookie control panel and select a different option.  |  View our privacy policy or cookie policy

Only accept essential cookies Accept all cookies