Ostomy

In this Article

What are the risks and/or side effects?

Your child may face many challenges if they have an ostomy, including:

  • Health and hygiene. After the ostomy has been performed, your child’s doctor and an ostomy nurse will show you how to remove waste from the pouch and how to keep the ostomy clean and infection-free. You should learn the steps as soon as possible, so you'll know how to protect your child. Regular waste removal, cleaning, and maintenance of the ostomy and ostomy pouch will help prevent accidents and embarrassment, and can also keep your child healthy while they have the ostomy.
  • Emotional and psychological. An ostomy can be embarrassing or difficult for children. Emotional and psychological issues may be harder for them to deal with. Different children will react to the ostomy in different ways. Some children will do fine, but others may go through denial when they don't acknowledge the ostomy exists. Other children might become depressed, and won’t leave the house or interact with friends. Joining a support group or online association of other children or people who have an ostomy can greatly relieve the isolation and unhappiness your child may feel at first.

What are the benefits?

Ostomies are sometimes a necessary procedure as a result of other medical complications. While an ostomy is a medical need that might be hard to adjust to at first, with the help of support groups, counselors, and your child’s primary healthcare team, your child can get used to living with an ostomy and get back to a full, active life.

How do I prepare?

Although having an ostomy can be difficult to accept, it's important to work closely with your child’s healthcare team. They will be the best people to tell you about the changes happening to your child’s body and how the ostomy will change (and not change) your and your child’s daily life. Children who undergo an ostomy may be reluctant to tell others about it, but it’s important to share the information with any caretakers so they understand how to help your child maintain proper hygiene and health.

How is it done or administered?

The most common type of ostomy is a colostomy [kuh-LOS-tuh-MEE], when part of the colon or rectum needs to be removed. In this procedure, an opening is made in the abdominal wall. A small part of the bowel is connected to the opening so that the stool can pass through to the ostomy pouch. Colostomies can be temporary or permanent. They have subtypes, depending on where the colostomy is made. These include sigmoid [SIG-moid] or descending, transverse, loop, and ascending. An ileostomy [IL-ee-OS-tuh-MEE] is a similar type of procedure done on the ileum [IL-ee-UHM]. The ileum is part of the small intestine.

All ostomies include a pouch and a wafer that helps protect the skin from irritation.

How Can I Keep My Child Comfortable?

There are a few things to watch out for when your child has an ostomy. Pay attention to the skin surrounding the stoma. If it seems tender or sore, you can take some of the following steps to keep your child more comfortable.

  • Use the right size pouch and skin barrier opening.
  • Change the pouching system regularly. 
  • Do not rip the pouching system off or remove it more than once a day.
  • Clean the skin around the stoma with water and dry it all the way before putting on the skin barrier.
  • Watch for allergic reactions to the adhesive, skin barrier, paste, tape, or pouch material. If your child has an allergy, the skin might appear red or inflamed.

What are follow-up requirements and options?

You should always follow the discharge instructions given to you by your child’s healthcare team after an ostomy. Further action is needed if your child experiences any of the following symptoms after the procedure:

  • Fever
  • Bad smell lasting longer than a week
  • Persistent red or irritated skin around the stoma
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • No regular bowel movements

Seek immediate care if your child:

  • Has bowel movements which are black or bloody
  • Has bleeding around the area
  • Is too weak to stand
  • Has severe abdominal pain

What should I expect during recovery?

There are a few things to watch out for when your child has an ostomy. Pay attention to the skin surrounding the stoma. If it seems tender or sore, you can take some of the following steps to keep your child more comfortable.

  • Use the right size pouch and skin barrier opening.
  • Change the pouching system regularly. 
  • Do not rip the pouching system off or remove it more than once a day.
  • Clean the skin around the stoma with water and dry it all the way before putting on the skin barrier.

Watch for allergic reactions to the adhesive, skin barrier, paste, tape, or pouch material. If your child has an allergy, the skin might appear red or inflamed.

An ostomy is an opening on the body that is created through surgery to help get rid of your child’s stool or urine. The waste is then collected in a removable bag, called a pouch, located on the outside of the body.

What is an Ostomy?

An ostomy [OS-tuh-mee] is a procedure to create an opening on the body to get rid of your child’s stool or urine. It can often be confused with a stoma [STOH-muh]. “Ostomy” means the opening that is created through a surgical procedure, while “stoma” means the end of the ureter [yoo-REE-ter] (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to your bladder) or bowel in your child’s body. The stoma often has to extend through the ostomy in order for urine or feces to leave the body.