What is a stoma?

Support and information for stoma patients and caregivers

A stoma (also called an ostomy) is a surgical opening from the abdomen to allow either faeces or urine to be directed to the opening of the stoma.

A stoma bag (also called a stoma pouch) collects the ‘output’ (faeces or urine) from the stoma.

A person with a stoma is often called an ‘ostomate.’ Stomas may be temporary or permanent and there are a number of different reasons why they may be needed but the most common are:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Accidental injury

There are three types of stoma: