What is a stoma

A stoma is a surgically
created opening in a
child's gastrointestinal
(GI) system to pass
"poo" (called stool or
faeces) or urine (in the
urinary system) through
the abdomen (tummy)

This opening is often called a stoma.

A stoma is an actual part of the small or large intestine or urinary tract that is brought through an incision on the abdominal wall1.

A stoma may be temporary to allow the affected area to heal and/or grow, or it may be permanent, depending upon your child's specific diagnosis. Your child's surgeon, paediatric nurse, or stoma care specialist can explain the reason for the surgery, and tell you which part of your child's GI or urinary tract will be used to make the stoma1.

After the surgery, your child will not be able to control when stool, gas, or urine comes out of the stoma. To help with this, your child will wear a stoma pouch over the stoma to collect stool or urine.

Food is broken down and digested in the GI system. After it is swallowed, food moves down a long tube (called the esophagus) into the stomach. Digestive juices break down this food before it moves to the small intestine. In the small intestine, nutrients your child needs are absorbed into the bloodstream and other organs. Then the food travels in the form of liquid and solid waste into the large intestine, or colon. There, water is absorbed and the stool becomes thicker. The large intestine stores this waste until it passes as stool out of the body through the rectum and anus2. When a child has a stoma, stool passes through the stoma instead of the anus.


Stool from an ileostomy is often a liquid. Stool from a colostomy is usually soft and formed3.

If your child is bottle- or breast-fed, it may stay somewhat loose. If your child is older, as she or he begins to eat solid foods, the stool will thicken (similar to the thickness of toothpaste or pudding).

The kidneys are mostly responsible for the removal of wastes from the blood and for the regulation of fluids in the system. The urine that is produced by the kidneys travels down the ureters, where it is stored in the bladder and released through the urethra4.

Depending on the location and type of your child's medical condition, a urinary tract opening or stoma may be made at almost any place in the urinary system. This procedure is called urostomy surgery.


The colour of urine may depend on a wide variety of causes. Food and medicine can change the colour of urine. Urine from a urostomy is often amber-yellow, though it may range in colour4.

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