Ostomy Care

Some people may require an ostomy, or stoma, as part of their treatment. Our expert team of nationally certified ostomy care nurses offer management, education and support before surgery, during their hospital stay, and after discharge.

What is an ostomy?

An ostomy is an opening in the abdominal wall for waste products to move out of the body. This surgery may be needed if part of the bowel or bladder is diseased and/or has been removed. An ostomy, also called a stoma, may be temporary or permanent, depending on the reason for surgery.

There are many types of ostomies. The most common types include colostomies, ileostomies, and urostomies (also known as ileal or colon conduits). If an ostomy is needed, you will need to wear a pouch after surgery to collect the waste that exits through the ostomy.

  • Colostomy: An ostomy created with the large intestine, also known as the colon.
  • Ileostomy: An ostomy created with the last part of the small intestine, also known as the ileum.
  • Urostomy: An ostomy created to drain urine out of the body after the bladder has been removed or bypassed.

Are there other types of ostomies?

Yes, there are. They are not an option for everyone, so please discuss your options with your surgeon.

Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis (IPAA) also known as a J-Pouch: This is a continent fecal (stool/poop) diversion. The IPAA is a surgically created internal reservoir, or pouch, made from the small intestine. This surgery can be done for people with ulcerative colitis or other inherited conditions, such as familial adenomatous polyposis, if the patient is deemed a good candidate. The surgery is usually done in 2 or 3 stages and involves the creation of a temporary ileostomy.

Florida/Indiana pouch: This is a continent urinary (pee) diversion. The Florida/Indiana pouch is a surgically created internal reservoir, or pouch, made out of small or large intestine. The reservoir has a catheterizable channel that is brought from the reservoir to the patient’s skin with the creation of a stoma. The channel is catheterized several times a day to empty the reservoir.

Neobladder: This is a continent urinary (pee) diversion. The neobladder is a surgically created internal reservoir, or pouch, made out of the small intestine that is connected to the urethra and ureters. The new bladder is located in the same place as the old bladder. After surgery, you will need to catheterize through the urethra to empty the new bladder, but eventually, 90% of people with a neobladder are able to urinate normally.


During an office visit, your surgeon will discuss your options, explain if an ostomy may be needed, describe the process and answer your questions. You will also see an ostomy nurse for additional education and stoma siting before your surgery. A family member or friend is welcome to join you.


Surgical recovery time will depend on the type of surgery and more medical care. The idea of having surgery or wearing a pouch can be upsetting. But, for those with debilitating medical conditions, surgery can often improve their quality of life.

After surgery, the ostomy nurses provide instructions on ostomy care and how to order supplies. Additionally, you will have follow-up appointments after surgery with your surgeon and an ostomy nurse. These appointments will help you adjust to life with an ostomy. They are for more education and possible changes to your ostomy care. They will help ensure successful pouches without leakage and skin breakdown.

Ileostomy patients

Videos: If your surgery will involve the creation of an ileostomy, there are some special instructions that need to be followed after surgery. Prior to surgery, please watch these five short videos.

Intake and output worksheet (PDF)

Food reference chart

Oral rehydration solution (ORS) recipes

Support groups

At Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center: The Ostomy Support Group is open to anyone who has, or will have an ostomy. It is also open to their significant other or anyone who cares for an individual with an ostomy.

It takes place on the third Wednesday of each month at 4:30 pm. Please call 603-650-8113 for more information.

Outside Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center: The United Ostomy Association of America has a support group finder. Another option is the online support group at Inspire.com.

Additional resources

Garment providers

Below is a list of garment websites other ostomates have found helpful. We do not endorse or have any financial relationship with any of them.