Ostomy Glossary

  • Abdomen

    The part of the body below the chest and above the hips.

  • Abdominoperineal excision of the rectum (APE / APER)

    A surgical procedure involving removal of the rectum and anus with closure of the perineum resulting in a permanent colostomy.

  • Abscess

    A localised collection of pus in a cavity. For example, a pelvic or an anastomotic abscess. Symptoms include pain and fever due to infection.

  • Absorption

    Digested nutrients and fluids are absorbed via the gastrointestinal system into the blood. Disease or surgery may reduce the body’s capacity to absorb nutrients and fluids.

  • Accessories

    Accessory products may assist in stoma management and include items such as belts, convex inserts, pouch covers, bag closures / clips, spray, creams, wafers / seals, powders, paste, deodorisers, solvents and tapes.  

  • Adenocarcinoma

    A malignancy of the glands. 95% of cancers arising in the bowel are adenocarcinoma.       

  • Adenoma

    Benign tumour with the cells arising from the glands in the bowel.

  • Adhesion

    Scar tissue that binds adjacent surfaces, usually in the abdomen; may cause complications, such as pain or constipation after an operation on the abdomen.

  • Adjuvant therapy

    Medical treatment provided to a patient in addition to surgery to aid in the killing of cancer cells; adjuvant (meaning one that helps) chemotherapy and radiation therapy are both used in colorectal cancer treatment in an effort to eliminate all cancerous cells from the body.

  • Allergy

    A negative response to a substance. In ostomy care, a person may be allergic to some part of the pouch system, such as the tape. However, allergies are fairly uncommon and there may be other reasons for a reaction to a material.

  • Anaemia

    A condition in which the blood is deficient in red blood cells, in haemoglobin, or in total volume. Symptoms include lethargy, tiredness, breathlessness.

  • Anal Fissure

    A split in the mucosa and skin of the anal canal. Usually caused by the passage of hard constipated stool resulting in pain and bleeding.

  • Anastomosis

    The re-joining of the bowel after a section has been removed.

  • Anismus

    Involuntary contraction of anal sphincter.

  • Antegrade Colonic Enema (ACE)

    ACE refers to a continent washout stoma. The procedure is most commonly performed in children with continence disorders. These disorders include congenital malformations such as spina bifida, imperforate anus, long-term soiling or constipation. The procedure is now also used in adults for the management of bowel dysfunction. It is a surgical technique where a small opening is created between the skin of the abdomen and the colon. This opening is made from the appendix or a piece of the bowel. Fluid is inserted into the opening rather than the rectum.

  • Anterior resection

    Surgical removal of part of / or all of the rectum and sigmoid colon. Anterior resections are often categorised as high or low depending on the site of the resection.

    • High anterior resection is the removal of upper / mid third of rectum and lower sigmoid colon.
    • Low anterior resection is the removal of the lower and mid third of rectum. A colon pouch may be constructed with this procedure depending on surgeon’s preference.

    Following anterior resections varying degrees of bowel dysfunction may be experienced, e.g. incontinence, diarrhoea and constipation.

    A temporary loop ileostomy may also be necessary to protect the anastamosis, but is more commonly seen with the low anterior resection.

  • Anus

    The opening at the end of the digestive tract through which stools pass.

  • Appendicectomy

    Surgical removal of the appendix.

  • Appendicitis

    Inflammation of the appendix.

  • Appendicostomy

    Surgical opening into the appendix.

  • Appendix

    "Blind" part of the caecum.

  • Avulsion

    This is a condition where the spout of the ileostomy is torn off due to trauma.

  • Bacteria

    Microscopic single-celled organisms. Some bacteria are harmless or even beneficial; others can cause infection.

  • Ballooning (of stoma appliance)

    Occurs when a stoma pouch / bag that is being worn by the patient fills up with flatus. This is most likely to be seen when a filter is blocked or ineffective or where there is no filter on the pouch / bag.

  • Barium x-ray

    A radiological examination, where a contrast medium (barium) is introduced into the bowel, allowing imaging of the ileum, colon and rectum for diagnosis.

  • Barrier opening

    The barrier opening is defined by the pre-cut hole in the skin barrier. The diameter is usually 1-2mm larger than the stoma.

  • Benign tumour

    Not cancerous. Benign tumours do not spread to tissue around them or to other parts of the body, but can grow in size where they occur.

  • Bile

    Fluid produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and used in the small intestine to break down fats. Bile salts are reabsorbed in the small bowel.

    The daily volume of bile production averages 600-1000 ml.

  • Biofeedback

    It is a non-surgical process that focuses on re-training the pelvic floor muscles. It involves assessment and education of the patient for the management of constipation and faecal / urinary incontinence.

  • Biopsy

    Diagnostic procedure in which a tissue sample is surgically removed from a portion of the body and examined under a microscope for analysis. Most biopsies are performed to determine whether an observed growth of tissue is malignant or benign.

  • Bladder

    Where the body stores urine prior to urination.

  • Bladder Cancer

    Occurs when there is a malignant growth within the bladder. Bladder cancers usually arise from the transitional cells of the bladder (the cells lining the bladder). These tumours may be classified based on their growth pattern as either papillary tumours (meaning they have a wart-like lesion attached to a stalk) or nonpapillary tumours. As with most other cancers, the exact cause is uncertain.

    Bladder cancer is divided into 5 stages – Stage 0: In-situ or non-invasive lesions limited to the bladder lining through to Stage IV: Cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other sites (metastatic).

    Bladder cancer spreads by extending into the nearby organs, including the prostate, uterus, ureters, and rectum.

  • Borborygmi

    Excessive gurgling noises heard in the intestine. For example in bowel obstruction and irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Bowel

    The bowel is a tube-like organ, starting from the stomach through to the anus. It is made up of the small intestine: duodenum, jujenum and ileum, and the large intestine: colon and rectum. The small intestine digests and takes nourishment from the food and the waste forms faeces. The faeces then enter the large intestine as liquid and the water is absorbed back into the body and the faeces becomes solid. 

  • Bowel / Colorectal Cancer

    Bowel cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. In almost all cases, however, this disease is entirely treatable if caught early by colonoscopy. There is no single cause for bowel cancer. However, almost all bowel cancers begin as benign polyps which, over a period of many years, develop into cancers. Factors that increase the risk of bowel cancer are colorectal polyps, cancer elsewhere in the body, a family history of bowel cancer, and ulcerative colitis. Patients with a history of breast cancer have a slightly increased risk of developing bowel cancer. Certain genetic syndromes increase the risk of developing bowel cancer in affected families.

    Bowel cancer is divided into 5 stages – Stage 0: In-situ or non-invasive lesions limited to the bowel lining through to Stage IV: Cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other sites (metastatic).

  • Bowel obstruction

    Blockage or clogging of the intestine.

  • BRAT diet

    Bananas, rice, apple sauce and tea diet; this combination of foods can sometimes be used to stop or slow down diarrhoea. Do not use in isolation as there are other foods that can stop or slow down diarrhoea. Consult your STN, dietitian or Doctor about other combinations of food.

  • Burping the pouch

    In a two-piece ostomy pouching system, this term is used to describe the intentional partial separation of the flanges to allow gas to escape.

  • Cachexia

    General weight loss and muscle wasting that occurs during the course of a chronic illness such as cancer.

  • Caecostomy

    Caecostomy is an opening into the caecum generally used to decompress the large bowel in cases of obstruction. Used as a temporary solution to relieve a blockage in the bowel.

  • Caecum

    This is the first section of colon / large bowel, which is 10–15 cm (2.5 to 3 inches) in length and is situated on the lower right side of the abdomen. The caecum contains the ileocaecal valve and the appendix.

  • Calorie / Kilojoule

    The energy value of food and fluids. Also used to describe the amount of energy our bodies burn. 

  • Cancer

    This term refers to the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells, which may destroy and invade adjacent body tissues or spread elsewhere in the body (secondary spread metastases). Normally cell divisions and replications divide to match normal cell loss. On rare occasions there is a defect in this division and a rogue, potentially malignant, cell arises. This is not recognised by the immune system and will continue to divide to produce millions of unwanted cells, thus destroying the function of normal body cells.

  • Caput medusa

    A term used to describe a bluish-purple discoloration of the skin caused by dilation of the superficial skin veins around the stoma. This is usually the result of portal hypertension (sometimes seen in the terminal patient when liver metastasis are present).

  • CAT Scan

    A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. These pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. Also called computerised axial tomography, computed tomography (CT scan), or computerised tomography.

  • Catheter

    A plastic / silicone / rubber tube which allows fluids to pass into or out of the body.

  • Chemical (irritant) dermatitis

    Inflammation of the skin around the stoma due to direct toxic reaction from faecal / urinary leakage, ostomy deodorants or solvents.

  • Chemotherapy

    Treatment that involves the use of prescription drugs. It may be specific to a type of disease such as cancer chemotherapy. These drugs may influence the output from the stoma.

  • Closed pouch

    A pouch that does not open at the bottom. To empty, it must be removed. Usually used for stomas with little output or very solid output.

  • Codeine

    Medicine that slows and thickens stoma output. In some countries, this medication is illegal in any form without a prescription. Check before you travel. Some doctors may suggest codeine tablets to thicken stoma output.

  • Colectomy

    Surgical removal of all or part of the colon / large bowel. These procedures may require stoma formation depending on extent of disease, physical status and patient / surgeon preference.

  • Colon

    The large bowel (intestine).

  • Colonic Conduit

    This is a specific type of urinary diversion. A segment of colon (large intestine) is used as a pipeline (conduit) to divert urine. The urine flows from the kidneys, down the ureters, through the conduit and out the stoma. The conduit is not a reservoir for urine. The output from the stoma is urine and mucus. The bladder may be bypassed or removed.

  • Colonoscopy

    Flexible, elongated tube that can be inserted through the anus allowing the inside of the colon to be seen.

  • Colorectal surgeon

    A specialist who has expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant diseases of the colon, rectum and anus.

  • Colostomy

    A surgical procedure where an opening is made in the abdomen and the colon / large bowel is brought out to the surface of the skin and stitched into place. The output (faeces) will vary from a thick fluid to formed. 

  • Constipation

    Irregular and infrequent defecation, accompanied by hard, dry stools which are difficult to pass.

  • Contact Sports

    Any sports where there is a risk of coming into a forceable contact with another player, for example, football, kung-fu.

  • Crohn's Disease

    An inflammatory disease affecting any part of the gastrointestinal system from mouth to anus.

  • Cutaneous ureterostomy

    The ureters are brought directly onto the skin surface to drain the urine. This type of diversion is mainly performed in babies or children as a temporary intervention until extensive surgery can be performed. It can also be used as a palliative measure in terminally ill patients with obstructed ureters. E.g. tumours and when the insertion of nephrostomy tubes is not feasible.

  • Cutaneous vesicostomy

    A urinary diversion directly from the bladder to the skin. More common in infants and young children as the bladder is located more abdominally than in adults. The bladder is mobilised midway between the umbilicus and symphysis pubis. The bladder mucosa is sutured to the skin and a pouch / bag is worn.

  • Cystectomy

    Total or partial removal of the urinary bladder resulting in a urinary stoma or a continent urinary diversion.

  • Cystic Fibrosis

    Is a multi-organ genetically determined disease, thought to be due to a primary disorder of the exocrine and mucous secreting glands. In the newborn, this condition results in the meconium being very thick and tenacious. This can result in intestinal obstruction which may necessitate surgery.

  • Defecation

    The action of emptying the rectum of faeces. The reflex for this is initiated by distension of the rectal wall which stimulates the stretch receptors and causes contraction of the rectal muscles.

  • Defunctioning stoma

    An ileostomy or colostomy constructed to divert the faecal flow away from a diseased, traumatised segment of the bowel or a newly formed anastomosis.

  • Dehydration

    The loss of too much water from the body.

  • Denuded

    A term used in stoma care to describe a superficial loss of skin around the stoma. This results in the skin being broken, leading to a moist, bleeding area.

  • Diarrhoea

    Loose watery output from the stoma that is more than usual.

  • Digestion

    The conversion of food into absorbable substances in the gastrointestinal system. Digestion is accomplished through the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into small molecules, which can then be absorbed into the blood stream.

  • Discharge

    What comes out of the stoma. Also called output, it may be urine, stool and / or gas.

  • Distension

    Over-expansion of the bowel with gas / fluid / stool. Reasons for distension include intestinal obstruction, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and acute abdomen.

  • Diverticular Disease

    Is a condition where small sacs or pouches form in the wall of the large bowel. Contributory factors include raised intraluminal pressure related to low fibre diet and lifestyle. Commonly found in the descending / sigmoid colon from middle age and onwards. The term diverticulitis is used when the pouches or sacs become inflamed or infected. Complications arising from diverticular disease include fistula formation, abscess, stricture, haemorrhage and perforation leading to peritonitis. These complications can result in surgery and sometimes stoma formation.

    Also referred to as Diverticulosis or Diverticulum.

  • Drainable pouch

    A pouch that opens at the bottom so you can empty it. Uses some type of fastener at the bottom to close it. Used for ileostomies and colostomies.

  • Drainage

    Generic term to refer to the output from a stoma. May be urine or stool.

  • Dysplasia

    Abnormal changes of mature cells that indicate possible development of cancer. These may be graded as mild, moderate and severe dysplasia.

  • Electrolyte

    Any of various ions, such as sodium, potassium or chloride required by cells to regulate the electric charge and flow of water across the cell membranes.

  • Endoscopy

    A collective name for visual inspections of the gastrointestinal tract using a flexible fiberoptic endoscope. The procedure can be performed for either diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. The procedure is performed to find the cause of bleeding, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and / or constipation; also to detect signs of cancer, bleeding, inflammation, abnormal growths, and ulcers.

  • Enzymes

    Digestive enzymes break down the food we eat so it can be used as a source of nutrition.

  • Erosion

    A term applied to a gradual breakdown of the epidermis. The skin may be damaged with moisture present and possibly bleeding. The erosion does not extend into the dermis and heals without scarring.

  • Erythema

    Redness of the skin.

  • Excise

    To surgically cut out / remove a part e.g. bowel or bladder.

  • Extenteration

    Radical surgical removal of some / all of the pelvic cavity organs. The extent of the disease will determine how radical the procedure will be. For example, total pelvic extenteration could include the removal of the: bladder, lower ureters, urethra, vagina, ovaries, uterine tubes, colon, rectum, anus, pelvic lymph nodes and all of the pelvic peritoneum.

  • Faeces

    Bowel motions or stools.

  • Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)

    A hereditary condition where large numbers (100-1000) of pre-malignant polyps develop in the large bowel from puberty and onwards. Malignant changes will occur if left untreated. Treatment will include surgical removal of the colon and rectum.

  • Filter

    A charcoal vent in an ostomy pouch that allows gas to be deodorised.

  • Fistula

    An abnormal passage or communication from an internal epithelialised organ to the skin surface or between two internal epithelialised organs:

    1. Colon - Colo  
    2. Small bowel - Entero  
    3. Bladder - Vesico  
    4. Vagina - Vaginal  
    5. Skin - Cutaneous  
    6. Rectum - Recto  

    E.g. colovaginal fistula will be from the large bowel to the vagina.

    Common causes of fistulae include Diverticular Disease, Crohn's Disease and radiotherapy. A large number of fistulae occur as a complication of surgery and are more common in malnourished patients.

  • Flatus

    Gas / wind formed in the large intestine as a result  of swallowing air when eating or chewing gum and the action of bacteria on undigested food. We produce between 400 ml-2 litres of wind / gas in 24 hours.

  • Flush stoma

    Where the stoma mucosa is at a level with the skin, either circumferential or partially. A stoma may be flush because of surgical technique / difficulties (e.g. poor mobilisation of the bowel and / or excessive tension of the suture line at the fascial layer), recurrent malignancy or weight gain.

    This may cause problems in obtaining and maintaining a secure and leak proof seal particularly in the management of an ileostomy or urostomy, due to the liquid nature of the output.

  • FOLFOX

    An abbreviation for a type of combination chemotherapy that is used to treat colorectal cancer. It includes fluorouracil, leucovorin and irinotecan.

  • Folliculitis

    Pustular lesions and inflammation seen at the hair follicles surrounding the stoma.

  • Gall bladder

    A pear-shaped sack 7-10 cm long which acts as a reservoir for bile.

  • Gastric

    To do with the stomach.

  • Gastro-colic reflex

    Is a reflex precipitated by the entry of food into the stomach causing the terminal ileum to contract and faeces to enter the caecum. In response to this there is a mass movement within the bowel, which can propel the bowel contents up to 30 cm towards the rectum. This reflex usually occurs after meals, but is particularly evident in the morning.

  • Gastroenterologist

    A doctor who specialises in treating the digestive organs. 

  • Gastrointestinal system

    The gastrointestinal system starts at the mouth, finishes at the anus and is approximately 6-7 metres (15–20 feet) long. Its main function is to digest, absorb, store and evacuate.

    Also referred to as GI tract, Alimentary canal, Digestive system and Gut.

  • Gastroscopy

    Inspection of the upper gastrointestinal tract, including the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum.

  • Granulomas

    A term used to describe small, reddish raised areas / nodules on the stoma or on the peristomal skin. Commonly caused by local irritation from stoma appliances, suture sites and / or leakage of effluent.

  • Haemorrhoids

    Commonly known as piles. Haemorrhoids are engorged and displaced vascular anal cushions. These anal cushions normally help seal the upper and lower canal and contribute to continence. Caused by constipation, straining and pregnancy. Symptoms include bleeding and discomfort.

  • Hartmann's procedure

    In this procedure the diseased part of the distal colon is surgically removed. The proximal end of the descending or sigmoid colon is brought up to the surface of the abdomen to form an end colostomy. The rectal stump is over sewn / stapled and left inside. The colostomy may be permanent or temporary. Most common reasons for performing this procedure are complicated diverticular disease or colorectal cancer.

  • Hereditary Non Polyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC)

    Is a dominantly inherited genetic abnormality that predisposes to colorectal cancer. 80% of people with HNPCC are at risk of developing cancer.

  • Hernia

    A weakening of the support muscles around the stoma that creates a buldge.

  • Hirshsprung's Disease

    This disease is due to an absence of autonomic ganglion (nerve) cells of the large intestine. This prevents peristalsis occurring in that part of the bowel (spastic). Approximately 75% of the cases are confined to the recto-sigmoid region (short segment Hirschsprung's Disease), 10% have total colonic involvement (long segment Hirschsprung's Disease). The condition usually becomes apparent in the neonatal period (80%) due to the delayed / failed passage of meconium. In babies, it usually appears with increasing abdominal distension and vomiting, requiring surgery to relieve the obstruction. Infants with this condition will need to have a temporary stoma, but a second operation will be carried out a few months later to remove the spastic (aganglionic) section of bowel and ‘pull through’ the healthy bowel down to the anus. Children with short-segment disease have a good outlook. Those with long-segment disease (no nerve cells in the colon) are more likely to require their ileostomy for longer, depending on the child’s progress.

    Hirschsprung's Disease affects 1:5000 live births, and is more prevalent in males than females 4:1.

  • Ileal / Ileo Anal pouch

    This is an optional surgical procedure primarily for patients with Ulcerative Colitis and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis. During this procedure the colon and rectum are removed and a reservoir / pouch is constructed, using the distal ileum. The configurations of the pouch can vary depending on surgeon preferences. The most common ones are the J-pouch and W-pouch. The pouch is then joined / anastomosed to the anus to restore continuity of bowel function. To facilitate healing in the post-operative period the patient may require a temporary loop ileostomy.

  • Ileal / Ileo Anal pouch function

    Following pouch construction, and when continuity of the bowel function is restored, the number of pouch evacuations varies with each individual. The expected average defecations / emptying of the pouch is between 4-8 in a 24-hour period. This will be more frequent in the initial months until the ileal pouch has adapted to its new function. Patients commonly require anti diarrhoea medication to help control output.

    With the faecal evacuation coming directly from the small bowel skin irritation and soreness in the perianal area is common. Cleansing of the anal area is therefore recommended after each pouch evacuation. Skin barrier creams can also be applied to prevent skin irritation in this area.

  • Ileal-Conduit / Urostomy

    A urinary stoma. Also known as a urinary diversion and often created as an ileal conduit. This is formed by isolating a small piece of ileum and implanting the ureters (tubes from the kidneys) into it. One end of the piece of small bowel is brought out through an opening on to the abdomen as a stoma. Urine flows down the ureters from the kidneys, through the piece of bowel (conduit), and out through the stoma. 

  • Ileo-caecal valve

    The ileo-caecal valve is a one-way valve located at the junction between ileum and colon. It regulates the emptying into the colon and prevents reflux of contents back into the small intestine.

  • Ileostomy

    A stoma opening into the small bowel.

  • Ileum

    Last section of the small intestine before it connects to the colon.

  • Impotence

    Inability to get an erection.

  • Incision line

    Location where an incision (cut made in the skin) was made during an operation. In ostomy surgery, it may be on the abdomen, around the base of the stoma or in the perineum.

  • Indigestion

    Discomfort / pain in the digestive system, differs from person to person and is related to diet, physical and psychological circumstances. Also called heartburn.

  • Infectious

    Can be spread from one person to the next; also "contagious".

  • Inflammation

    The body's reaction to infection, irritation or other injury. The symptoms include redness, warmth, swelling, pain and impaired function.

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

    Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a broad term used to describe the two conditions Crohn's Disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). There is no definitive cause and the usual presentation is in young people. Common symptoms are abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhoea, mucous in the stool and anorexia. Inflammatory Bowel Disease is characterised by remissions and relapses. The majority of cases are managed conservatively but some will eventually require surgery.

    • Crohn's Disease affects any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, and may involve all layers of the intestinal wall, with acute and chronic inflammation, resulting in fissures, fistulae, abscesses and strictures. Non-continuous parts (skip lesions) of the intestine (both large and small) may be affected, the most common parts being terminal ileum and ascending colon. Smoking has been proven to be a risk factor for recurrent episodes of Crohn's Disease. Medical management and surgery may alleviate symptoms, but at present, there is no cure for this disease.

    • Ulcerative Colitis is confined to the colon and rectum. Ulcerative Colitis often starts in the rectum and spreads proximally in a continuous manner. The inflammation causes bloody diarrhoea, urgency and frequency of stools. Where surgery is required a restorative procedure can be an option, for example Ileo anal pouch.

  • Internal pouch

    Can be identified as any form of surgically reconstructed internal pouch / reservoir for the purpose of evacuation/elimination.

  • Intestinal bacteria

    The intestine, especially the colon, contains millions (over 400 species) of helpful bacteria that assist the digestive process and maintain intestinal function. Anaerobic bacteria present in the colon serve to putrefy remaining proteins and indigestible residue. This bacterial action also creates intestinal gas.

  • Intestine

    A tube-like structure that begins as the mouth and ends at the anus. As food goes through the intestine, nutrients are taken in by the body and waste is passed out of the body as  bowel movement.

  • Intravenous

    Via a vein.

  • Intussusception

    Refers to the sliding of one part of the intestine into itself. Clinical symptoms (colic pain and the "red currant jelly" stool), together with physical and radiographic examination helps diagnosing this condition. It can occur at any age but more than 60 % of the cases are encountered from birth up to 4 years.

  • Irrigation

    A procedure used to control the bowels. It is not for everyone with a colostomy and requires special equiptment and education. 

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

    Is a common condition characterised by symptoms of cramping abdominal pain, bloating and erratic bowel habit. The cause is unknown but it is often associated with stress, anxiety or following severe intestinal infection. On investigation there is no detectable structural disease.

  • Jejunostomy

    A jejunostomy is a surgically created opening from the jejunum that is brought through the abdominal wall and sutured to the skin. This type of stoma is relatively uncommon, but may be necessary in extensive Crohn's disease or ischaemia. A high output stoma pouch / bag will be required to manage this stoma.

  • Jejunum

    Middle part of the small intestine that extends from the duodenum to the ileum. It measures about 3 metres (9 feet) in length. The jejunum is the major organ for nutrient absorption. Most of the fats, proteins and vitamins are absorbed in jejunum, as well as any remaining carbohydrates not already absorbed in the stomach or duodenum. Approximately 3-3.5 litres of intestinal fluid are secreted into the jejunum per 24 hours.

  • Laceration (of the stoma)

    This term refers to a cut / tear to the stoma, usually due to friction from the stoma appliance or it may develop in conjunction with trauma to the stoma. It usually appears as a yellow to white linear discoloration of the stoma mucosa. It can be severe enough to penetrate / fistulate the bowel wall, but is commonly superficial. Due to the fact that the stoma does not contain nerve endings, the patient may not experience any pain.

  • Laparoscopy

    An examination or surgical procedure using a type of endoscope (laparoscope) inserted through the abdominal wall via small incisions. The procedure is carried out under video control and minimises trauma, post-operative pain and length of hospital stay. A variety of surgical procedures (colectomy, stoma formation, ACE procedure) can now be performed in some specialised centres.

  • Large intestine

    Another term for the colon or the last part of the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Loop colostomy

    A loop colostomy is formed in the large bowel and common sites are in the transverse colon or sigmoid colon.

  • Loop ileostomy

    A loop ileostomy is formed in the small intestine, commonly in terminal ileum.

  • Loop stoma

    A loop of intestine is brought out through a surgical opening made in the abdominal wall. This diverts the faecal flow from diseased, traumatised, obstructed intestine or from the site of an anastomosis. When the stoma is constructed the bowel is not completely divided but is opened along the anterior surface. The opened edges are then everted and sutured to the skin. This stoma has two distinct openings, the proximal functional opening and the distal non-functional opening, that remain connected by the undivided posterior section of the bowel wall.

  • Low anterior resection (LAR)

    Surgical procedure used to remove the cancerous tissue in colorectal cancer.

  • Maceration

    Peristomal skin being denuded by moisture.

  • Meconium

    The first stools of a newborn baby.

  • Meconium Ileus

    The inability to pass meconium (stool) by normal defecation in the newborn. The condition may result in intestinal obstruction, perforation and peritonitis, which will ultimately require surgery.

  • Mega Colon

    Is a term used to describe a number of conditions in which the colon is excessively dilated, e.g. Hirschsprung's Disease and / or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. If left untreated it may predispose to perforation.

  • Mesentry

    A double layer of peritoneum that encircles most of the small intestine and anchors it to the posterior abdominal wall.

    The mesentery contains the blood vessels and nerve fibres that supply and nourish the small intestine.

  • Metabolic (Metabolism)

    The burning of kilojoules, or calories, to release energy.

  • Mucocutaneous junction

    Sutured junction of a stoma between the bowel (mucosa) and the skin (cutaneous).

  • Mucocutaneous separation

    Breakdown of the suture line between the bowel mucosa and the skin securing the stoma to the abdominal surface.

  • Mucus

    Mucus is the thickish, slippery fluid produced from the lining of the intestines.

  • Mucus discharge

    A sticky thick fluid that may be present on faeces and looks like cloudy material in the urine. This is normal to see from an ileal or colon conduit.

  • Nausea

    A symptom resulting from the inclination to vomit.

  • Necrosis

    Localised death of tissues.

  • Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC)

    This condition affects premature babies and leads to necrosis of the bowel, gangrene and in extreme cases death. Babies with obstructive symptoms require an emergency laparotomy to identify and remove the necrotic bowel resulting in a temporary ileostomy.

  • Neo-adjuvant therapy

    A preliminary cancer treatment e.g. chemotherapy or radiotherapy that usually precedes another phase of therapy e.g. surgery.

  • Night drainage bag

    A large collection bag for urine. A person with a urostomy is able to connect their pouch to a night drainage bag.

  • Oesophagus

    Also known as the gullet. This canal extends from the pharynx to the stomach and is approximately 23 cm long.

  • One-Piece pouch

    The skin barrier is attached to the pouch.

  • Ostomate / ostomist

    A person who has a stoma.

  • Ostomy / Stoma Association

    An association or club for people with ostomies.

  • Pancaking (in stoma appliance)

    Refers to the presence of faeces staying on top of the stoma, and not dropping / moving down into the bottom of the pouch / bag. Most commonly seen in colostomy management. Occurs when the filter on the stoma pouch / bag eliminates all air in the appliance, creating a 'vacuum' / 'sucking in' of the appliance onto the mucosa of the stoma.

    It is not an easy problem to solve, but primarily the use of an adhesive cover over the filter can help to minimise the problem.

  • Parastomal infection

    There are 2 main types of infection found around a stoma - bacterial and candidal.

    • Bacterial: caused by Staphylococcus aureus and appears as a large, patchy erythematous crusty area with plaques.
    • Candidal infections: candida - a yeast-like fungus that is part of the normal flora of the intestine, but can spread to the skin in certain conditions (damp skin e.g. from leaking ostomy pouch).

  • Pelvis

    Area of the body surrounded by the hips. Includes the bladder, prostate, uterus and other organs.

  • Penile implant

    Mechanical stiffener for the penis.

  • Perianal skin

    The skin around the anus.

  • Perineal

    The area between the anus and the genital area.

  • Peristomal / parastomal skin

    The skin area immediately around the stoma.  

  • Peritonitis

    Inflammation of the peritoneal cavity, which includes the two layers of the peritoneum. It is categorised as either localised or generalised. Localised perotinitis involves the inflammation of the full thickness of the bowel (e.g. appendicitis, diverticulitis). This may progress into a generalised peritonitis due to perforation of the bowel (e.g. perforated appendix / diverticulum). This is a life threatening situation. Common symptoms include pain, nausea, fever, abdominal distension and difficulty in passing faeces or gas. Treatment involves antibiotics and / or surgery.

  • Phantom rectum

    A painful sensation experienced in the perineum. This can occur following abdominoperineal excision of rectum.

  • Polypectomy

    Surgical removal of a polyp.

  • Polyps (in the bowel)

    Small growths in the bowel that vary in shape and size. They can be flat, sessile or project out from the mucous membrane. These polyps are usually benign but can undergo malignant changes over a long period of time (5-10 yrs). Polyps in the bowel are more common after middle age. It is suggested that people undergo routine colonoscopy after the age of 50 years to have any polyps removed and microscopically examined for malignant changes. Symptoms, if any, can include: bleeding and altered bowel habit depending on location in the bowel and size of the polyp.

  • Pouchitis

    Is a term describing inflammation of the ileo-anal pouch reservoir. Cause is unknown but it is suggested that it is due to bacterial overgrowth. Is more common for those who have had a pouch constructed for Ulcerative Colitis and may affect as many as 20-35% of patients. Symptoms include diarrhoea, bleeding, pyrexia and general malaise. The condition responds well to oral antibiotics and steroids. However, very rarely, surgery may be indicated to remove the ileo-anal pouch and form a permanent ileostomy.

  • Prebiotics

    These are non-digestable food ingredients that have a beneficial effect on the gut. They stimulate the growth of some colonic bacteria. E.g. fructose favours the fermentation of bifidobacteria.

  • Pre-cut baseplate

    The barrier opening on these products has already been cut for added convenience. The sizes are listed and should be selected based upon your stoma size. Ideal if the stoma has a round shape.

  • Probiotics

    Probiotics are live micro-organisms that can beneficially alter the micro-flora of our gut. E.g. lactobacilli. To enable this to happen they have to be alive when eaten, survive the acid produced by our stomachs and be alive on leaving.

  • Proctalgia fugax

    A severe shooting pain in rectum / anus. More common in men than women.

  • Proctitis

    Proctitis is an inflammation of the rectal mucosa most commonly seen in relation to Ulcerative Colitis. Proctitis can also be associated with infection from campylobacter, shigella and salmonella organisms as well as with venereal infections. Radiation proctitis is the most common complication of pelvic radiation often occurring years after treatment. Symptoms of severe proctitis will include profuse watery diarrhoea, bleeding and tenesmus.

  • Proctology

    Refers to the medical speciality that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the rectum and anus.

  • Prolapse (of stoma)

    This type of prolapse refers to an increased protrusion / lengthening of the mucosa of the stoma. This is due to intussusception / telescoping of the bowel out through the stomal opening. Contributing factors may be an excessively large opening in the abdominal wall (surgical technique) and / or increased abdominal pressure (e.g. heavy lifting, coughing). A prolapse occurs more frequently in transverse loop stomas.

  • Prolapse (rectal)

    In this condition the rectum protrudes through the anus usually as a result of weakening of the supporting tissues. Depending on severity surgical treatment may be indicated.

  • Pseudomembranous colitis

    Is a condition that affects mainly the colon and rectum. It is characterised by the formation of a thick blanket of yellowish-white mucosal plaques on the lining of the colon. It is believed to result from the toxins produced by the bacteria Clostridium Difficile, related to severe forms of anti-biotic associated conditions. Pseudomembranous colitis may become chronic or relapsing, and may necessitate surgical intervention (total or subtotal colectomy).

  • Rectum

    The last portion of the digestive tract before the anus. Stores stool in place prior to a bowel movement.

  • Retraction (of stoma)

    Where the stoma mucosa is below skin level, either circumferential or partial. Retraction may be caused by surgical technique / difficulties (e.g. poor mobilisation of the bowel and / or excessive tension of the suture line at the fascial layer), recurrent malignancy or weight gain. Retraction may cause problems in obtaining and maintaining a secure and leak proof seal around the stoma, necessitating an in-depth assessment by the trained competent Stomal Therapy Nurse. A variety of products are available to manage this problem.

  • Short Bowel Syndrome

    Short bowel syndrome refers to malabsorption and malnutrition following extensive resections of the small bowel. It occurs when disease or surgery destroys the capacity and absorption of the small bowel. If some, or all of the entire colon has been resected, the problems may become more complicated. Patients require assessment for additional nutritional supplements either orally, via a gastrostomy or total parenteral nutrition.

  • Sigmoid colon

    This is the last portion of the large bowel just before the rectum.

  • Sigmoidoscopy

    Inspection through a fibreoptic scope, the inside of the sigmoid colon which is part of the large intestine that empties into the rectum.

  • Skin barrier

    Part of the pouching system to protect your skin.

  • Slow transit constipation

    Thought to be due to a muscular disorder of the colon (colonic inertia). Treatment options include laxatives, biofeedback and surgery.

  • Small intestine

    The portion of the gastrointestinal system that first receives food from the stomach. Divided into three sections: duodenum, jejunum and ileum.

  • Solitary Rectal Ulcer

    Is an uncommon condition characterised by an ulcer on the anterior wall of the rectum and is thought to arise as a result of repeated mucosal trauma. The condition is often associated with other rectal conditions such as prolapse and pelvic floor disorders. Straining on hard, constipated stool may cause it or it can be externally induced by an enema tip or by using fingers or objects to aid defecation. If not treatable conservatively, surgery may be rarely indicated.

  • Sphincter

    A muscle that surrounds and closes an opening. A stoma does not have a sphincter.

  • Stenosis

    Stenosis is a narrowing of the lumen of the intestine or the stoma.

    • Stomal stenosis: Occurs at either the fascial or cutaneous level. It may be caused by ischaemia, trauma, peristomal sepsis, retraction, excessive scar formation (following mucocutaneous separation) or narrowing after repair of a peristomal hernia. Manual dilation may be considered depending on the cause; if this is not successful, re-fashioning of the stoma may be required to avoid obstruction.

    • Intestinal stenosis: Occurs in both the small and the large intestine. Sepsis, adhesions, anastomotic scarring, radiotherapy and diseases such as Crohn's disease, diverticulitis and malignancy may cause intestinal stenosis. Extensive narrowing will require surgical assessment to avoid complete obstruction.

  • Stercoral perforation

    This term refers to perforation of the colon as a result of severe faecal impaction which will require emergency surgery.

  • Stoma

    An artificial opening into the body, in this case the digestive tract. From the Greek word meaning mouth or opening. Also known as "ostomy".  

  • Stoma bag

    A specialised bag used to collect bodily wastes from the stoma.

  • Stoma measuring guide

    A card used to measure the stoma at the base. This information is useful in selecting the right size pouch or skin barrier.

  • Stoma necrosis

    Necrosis occurs due to inadequate blood supply to the stoma. This may be due to excessive dissection of the mesentery, traction of the mesentery (due to abdominal distension or obesity) or severe oedema of the bowel (after manipulation of the bowel or exposure of the bowel to air).

    The necrosis manifests with a dark brown or black discolouration of the stoma, which appears dry and firm.

    This will usually be noticeable during the first 24 hours post-operatively, but requires careful monitoring over the next 3-5 days after surgery. If the necrotic area extends below the fascial level, immediate revision will be required.

  • Stomal Therapy Nurse (STN)

    Also known as ET (Enterostomal Therapy Nurse) or WOCN / WOC (Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nurse). This is a specially trained  nurse with broad expertise in the care of stoma patients.

  • Stone Fruits

    Fruits with large pits. These include apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, mangoes, etc.

  • Stool

    Waste material from the bowel. Also known as faeces or bowel movement.

  • Tenesmus

    A persistant urge to empty the bowel, or feeling of not being able to completely empty one's bowels.

  • Total mesorectal excision (TME)

    A surgical procedure performed during rectal cancer surgery. The mesorectum is a layer of fatty tissue surrounding the rectum. A specialist colorectal surgeon is required to perform the procedure, but it has reduced local recurrence rates and improved survival outcomes. Surgery involving the procedure will often require a defunctioning stoma.

  • Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)

    A system of providing adequate daily fluids and nourishment into a vein. Used when a person cannot eat or drink for prolonged periods.  

  • Trans-anal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM)

    Surgical treatment of early tumours of the rectum.

  • Trans-anal resection (TAR)

    A palliative surgical procedure used for controlling rectal tumours which are inoperable or for patients who cannot withstand major surgery.

  • Transparent pouch

    The pouch is designed to allow you to see the pouch contents. This is preferred in some situations.

  • Transverse colon

    The transverse colon is approximately 45 cm in length. It extends from its two fixed points; the hepatic flexure to the splenic flexure linking the ascending and descending colon.

  • Transverse colostomy

    This type of stoma is formed in the transverse part of the colon. It is usually positioned on the right upper quadrant of the abdomen and can be formed as either a loop or split stoma. Loop transverse colostomies are often raised for symptomatic / palliative reasons. Due to the position of these stomas, being outside the rectus muscle, herniation and prolapse are common complications.

  • Tumour, node and metastases (TNM)

    Is a classification / staging tool to describe the stage and grade of bladder or colorectal tumours.

  • Two-Piece pouch

    The skin barrier is separate from the pouch. Both pieces are needed to create a pouching system.

  • Ulcer

    Usually refers to a parastomal skin defect reaching into the subcutaneous layer of the skin. Ulcers may occasionally be seen on the mucosa of the stoma.

  • Ulcerative Colitis

    Inflammatory bowel disease that affects the colon but not the small intestine.

  • Ureters

    Narrow tubes that drain urine from your kidneys to your bladder.

  • Urethra

    The narrow tube from the bladder through which urine drains from your body.

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)

    An infection that typically involves the kidneys or bladder. Some warning signs of a urinary tract infection include dark cloudy urine, strong smelling urine, back pain, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

  • Urologist

    A physician who specialises in urinary or urogenital tract diseases and disorders.

  • Urostomy / Ileal-Conduit

    A urinary stoma. Also known as a urinary diversion and often created as an ileal conduit. This is formed by isolating a small piece of ileum and implanting the ureters (tubes from the kidneys) into it. One end of the piece of small bowel is brought out through an opening on to the abdomen as a stoma. Urine flows down the ureters from the kidneys, through the piece of bowel (conduit), and out through the stoma. 

  • Urostomy pouch

    A pouch with a tap at the bottom. Used for urine or very liquid stool.

  • Vegan

    A person who does not eat anything derived from animal origin.

  • Volvulus

    This term refers to a rotation and twisting of the intestine, usually seen in the sigmoid colon. A volvulus can occur in people who have long-standing constipation or chronic laxative abuse, when the colon becomes larger, elongated and relatively atonic.

  • Wafer / Flange

    The base plate (skin barrier) of a two-piece system that adheres to the skin.

Suppliers of 


Hollister specialises in products for ostomy, continence and wound care. Hollister Incorporated is an independently-owned global company that develops, manufactures and markets healthcare products, servicing over 90 countries.


From the earliest days of the company, there has been a strong sense of community—a connection to people.


That connection is embedded in the very fabric of our company, and as we continue to develop new products and services, we are focused on meeting the healthcare needs of people throughout the global community. Hollister are very pleased to announce the launch of the new CeraPlus Skin Barriers. Your stomal therapy nurse will be able to help you understand if these are suitable for you.



Dansac develops, manufactures and markets unique stoma care products that solve specific problems and improve quality of life for people with a stoma – and for people who work with stoma care. This is our mission!


Dansac focuses solely on stoma care, nothing else. We consider each stoma to be an individual case that requires unique care and products. We do not hesitate to find new ways and to think differently.


This is also true of our communication. We believe that openness and dialogue create better products and greater knowledge – and benefit the health and happiness of people who must live with a stoma.


In other words, Dansac is dedicated, innovative, modern, informal and reliable.