Ostomy Care

One of the most common concerns people have about colorectal cancer surgery is the possibility of an ostomy. An ostomy, or stoma, is a surgically created opening in your abdomen. It diverts stool from your intestines and sends it to a collection bag. You may need an ostomy if we remove a large portion of your colon, rectum or anus during surgery.

At Henry Ford Health, the expertise of our surgeons and our experience with sphincter-sparing procedures mean that very few people need a permanent ostomy after colorectal cancer treatment. Sometimes, a temporary ostomy is necessary for three months to a year. A temporary ostomy allows your intestines to heal after the initial surgery. Once you’ve recovered, we do an ostomy reversal.

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


Types of ostomies: colostomy and ileostomy

The type of stoma you have depends on the location of the cancer and how much tissue we removed during colorectal cancer surgery. Colostomies and ileostomies are the most common types of ostomies for people with colorectal cancer:

  • Colostomy: A colostomy connects your large intestine (colon) to the stoma. You may need a colostomy if we have to remove your anus, rectum or part of your large intestine.
  • Ileostomy: We divert the last part of your small intestine (ileum) to the stoma. You may need an ileostomy if we remove part of your large intestine.

Take the next step

Contact the colorectal cancer care team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167 or request an appointment online.

Care from certified ostomy nurses

Our comprehensive ostomy clinic supports people with temporary or permanent colostomies and ileostomies. You receive care from ostomy nurses certified by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board. This certification recognizes their specialized knowledge and training in the unique needs and challenges of people living with ostomies.

Our ostomy clinic services

Patients at Henry Ford and those who received colorectal cancer treatment at another facility can take advantage of our ostomy clinic services:

  • Presurgical ostomy education: We explain your procedure, how ostomies work and what you can expect from your ostomy. Nurses answer your questions and address concerns so you feel prepared.
  • Stoma marking: Nurses work with your surgeon to determine the best location for your stoma. They assess your abdomen when you lie down, sit and stand to optimize comfort and reduce the risk of postoperative problems.
  • Ostomy supplies: We make sure you have the right ostomy supplies and know how to use them. Nurses help you select the correct pouching system, which includes a bag and skin barrier, for your stoma type, body shape and lifestyle.
  • Ostomy self-care: We provide instructions and support for managing your ostomy at home. Nurses show you and your caregivers how to empty, clean and change ostomy pouches. We also provide tips on caring for the skin around your stoma.
  • Stoma-related complications: We help you identify common and serious stoma-related complications, so you know when to seek care. Nurses teach you to evaluate your stoma for skin irritation, infection, leaks, blockages or other problems.
  • Living with an ostomy: We provide information on safe and effective ways to stay active with a colostomy or ileostomy. Whether you’re concerned about traveling, playing sports or having sex, our nurses provide guidance so you can live the life you want to live.

Ostomy support groups

If you have an ostomy, you’re not alone. An ostomy support group can help you share your experiences with other people living with ostomies. Ask questions, gain a sense of community and overcome stress related to your ostomy. Find support at:

Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167.


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