Ostomy Care

An ostomy, or stoma, is a surgically created passage that diverts stool from the intestines and sends it to a collection bag on the abdomen.

When we perform colorectal cancer surgery, we can frequently avoid the need for an ostomy. But sometimes an ostomy is necessary — either temporarily to let the intestines heal or permanently because significant colon or rectal tissue was removed.

If you do need an ostomy, our specialized nurses provide all the support you need. While an ostomy requires some adjustment, you can do everything you did beforehand — run, golf, work, have sex and live your usual life.

Types of stomas: ileostomy and colostomy

All stomas are not alike. Our experienced surgeons create stomas that make the process as simple and straightforward as possible. They create two types of ostomy:

  • Ileostomy: These stomas connect the small intestines to a hole in the wall of the abdomen. Many ostomies are temporary — needed for a year or less — and are ileostomies.
  • Colostomy: These stomas connect the large intestine (colon) to the abdomen and are typically permanent.

Specialized ostomy nurses for your care

It’s natural to feel worried, concerned or confused about what’s involved with an ostomy and how to care for it. We’re here for every part of your ostomy care, whether it’s temporary or permanent. We help you learn to live with an ostomy.

We provide support chiefly through our specialized ostomy nurse practitioners, certified by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB). Our nurse practitioners offer:

  • Outpatient visits: An Ostomy Clinic helps every Henry Ford patient who is having surgery that could result in a colostomy, ileostomy or, for bladder cancer, a urostomy. People who are not Henry Ford patients can make clinic appointments, too.
  • Education before surgery: Before your operation, nurses meet with you privately and go over the whole process. They’ll explain the procedure, show you sample pouches and explain how to care for an ostomy. They’ll also talk about what it means to have an ostomy, answer questions and help you find support groups.
  • Ostomy marking: Before surgery, our nurses assess your belly and mark the best place for the ostomy. Research shows this preoperative marking improves quality of life and health after surgery.
  • Follow-up advice: Our nurses can help you evaluate the pouching system you choose and work out any problems. They’re available whenever you need them.
  • Ability to prescribe supplies: Our nurses can prescribe ostomy supplies, so you can avoid a separate visit with the doctor.

Additional ostomy support

If you need an ostomy, we can connect you with additional resources specific to your needs and concerns. You don’t need to face this challenge alone. There are others who have been where you are and can help you find the answers you need.

Resources include:

  • Local monthly support group: Henry Ford’s ostomy support group meets once a month at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital.
  • Support groups in other areas: If you live outside Detroit and need a local support group, visit the United Ostomy Associations of America or call the organization toll-free at (800) 826-0826.
  • Online support: Online support is available, too. Ask an ostomy nurse how to contact us online.
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