What is a urostomy?

What is a urostomy?

A urostomy (sometimes called an ileal conduit) is created to allow another way for urine to exit the body through a stoma and a pouch. Urine is produced by the kidneys and this travels down the ureters to the bladder, where urine is stored until it’s ready to be released via the urethra and out of the body. 

Don’t be too intimidated by the alternative name ‘ileal conduit’ – ileal simply refers to the ileum which is the final section of small intestine. Conduit means a channel for conveying fluid. To create a urostomy, a small section of bowel is used to create a channel at the end of the ureters. So now, urine drains from the kidneys, down the ureters and instead of flowing into the bladder to be stored, is now bypassed via the small piece of bowel which extends to the opening of the stoma. This allows urine to drain into a pouch instead.

If you’re unsure of the word ‘stoma’, this refers to an artificial opening made into a hollow organ. More people are familiar with bowel stomas (otherwise known as colostomies) than they are bladder stomas (urostomies).

Why would someone need a urostomy? 

A urostomy is required when urinary drainage in the usual way (via the bladder and urethra) is not possible. This could be due to surgery where part or all of the bladder needs to be removed (for example, due to cancer). For some individuals with conditions which result in nerve damage to the bladder, a urostomy might be needed. This includes conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy.

What type of urostomy bag should I use?

There are two types of urostomy bag - one-piece and two-piece. A one-piece urostomy bag features an adhesive flange, or rim. When the bag needs to be changed, the whole bag is removed and another one applied in its place. A two-piece urostomy bag have an adhesive flange which adheres to the skin around the stoma. The bag then attaches to this flange, meaning when it’s time to replace the bag, the bag is removed but the flange stays in place. A fresh bag can then be re-attached. The one flange can stay in place for 2-3 days. Your stoma nurse will be able to provide you with additional information on the types of urostomy bags available and advise which is best for you.

Is there any risk of leaking or other people being able to smell my urostomy?

Urostomy bags these days are very effective and if you use them correctly, you shouldn’t experience any leaking. We understand this might still be a cause of worry, particularly if you’re new to having a urostomy. Please don’t suffer in silence. Share any concerns with your stoma nurse and they’ll be able to provide you with advice which should help to put your mind at ease.

Is a urostomy permanent? 

Some stomas are permanent, whereas others are temporary. Whether yours is permanent or temporary will depend on the reasons why you needed your urostomy in the first place. If you’re unsure how long you’ll be needing your urostomy for, your doctor or stoma nurse will be able to let you know.

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