Table of Contents


In this case, it refers to an abdominal abscess, which is characterized by a localized collection of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue. It can involve any abdominal organ and can cause pain and infection. 


The digested nutrients that are absorbed via the digestive tract and into the blood. Certain illnesses and surgeries may impact the body’s ability to properly absorb these nutrients. 


Adhesions are bands of scar tissue that can form between abdominal organs, often after abdominal surgery or sepsis. This is most common with the small intestines but can form between any abdominal organs. These bands of scar tissue prevent the organs from moving freely as they normally would. Generally, adhesions do not cause symptoms, however, they can cause pain or bowel obstruction if severe. In most cases, adhesions will not be treated, as surgery to remove them just leads to more scar tissue, however, if a bowel obstruction occurs it may need surgical intervention.


When the body reacts, in an inflammatory way, to a substance that is introduced. For example an ostomate may have an allergic reaction to certain adhesive products. This is different from sensitivity and will lead to the need to discontinue the use of that product. If an ostomate suspects that they may have an allergy to a barrier, it is suggested that they cut off a portion of a spare barrier and place it on their skin in a place other than the peristomal skin to gauge the reaction. It may also be necessary to seek medical advice from a WOCN if an allergy is suspected, as continued exposure will cause damage to the skin.


When talking about bowel disease, an anastomosis refers to the site at which two sections of the bowel are surgically connected. This happens when a section of diseased or damaged bowel needs to be removed (bowel resection), or during stoma reversal surgery.


A condition where the blood has a deficiency and leads to reduced oxygen flow to organs. This can mean that the blood is deficient in red blood cells, total volume, or hemoglobin. Side effects of anemia can include; breathlessness, lightheadedness, fatigue, paleness, and a fast heartbeat. Different conditions or surgeries may result in anemia and may require medical intervention to restore to a safe level. 


When the anal sphincter, or portions of the pelvic floor, experiences involuntary contractions. This can cause dysfunction when trying to pass stool, or in the case of an ostomate when they try to pass mucus. It can be a painful experience and lead to obstructions. 

Barbie Butt

This is a term used in the ostomy community to refer to the surgical procedure, proctectomy, that removes all or part of the rectum and results in an anus that is then closed. You could also hear it called a Ken Butt when it is referring to a man that underwent this procedure. 

Blockage/Bowel Obstruction

A blockage, or bowel obstruction, means that the normal flow of output from the stoma is disrupted and restricted. Some causes of blockages include food that did not digest properly, narrowing of the bowel, or adhesions. Some signs of a blockage include; abdominal pain, vomiting or nausea, abdominal distention/swelling, and no or very little output from the stoma. There are different causes and severity of bowel blockages, so if you are experiencing pain it is always best to seek medical assistance.


The large intestine and small intestine make up the bowel.

Bowel Resection

A bowel resection is when a portion of the bowel, either small or large, is surgically removed. Then the ends are reattached to form an anastomosis. There are many reasons a bowel resection may be necessary, and the amount resected varies from case to case. 


A fungal skin infection that can cause pain and irritation under the barrier. It is generally caused by skin that is warm and moist over an extended period of time. To help prevent candidiasis, always make sure to dry your skin before placing it on a new appliance, make sure the appliance fits well to prevent leaks, and try to dry off your appliance quickly after swimming or showering. Seek medical advice from a WOCN if you suspect a fungal infection. You might be prescribed an anti-fungal if the healthcare provider suspects a candidiasis infection.


When all or part of the colon/large bowel is surgically removed. There are many reasons this procedure may be needed, and can sometimes lead to the necessity of forming a stoma. 


A name that is often used to describe someone living with a colostomy. 


An ostomy that’s created using a portion of the patient’s colon. It is a surgically formed opening from the colon that is brought through the abdomen and allows stool to be passed. This can be formed from any part of the colon depending on the condition that leads to the necessity of this procedure. An ostomy appliance (bag) is worn on the belly to collect the output.  


When stool becomes difficult to pass. This can be accompanied by hard dry stool that is painful to pass.

Continent Ostomy

An internal pouch/reservoir is surgically created. The internal pouch allows for storage and can be manually emptied by the patient. This generally eliminates the need to wear an external ostomy appliance. The new valve stoma is flush to the skin and once healed can simply be covered with a bandage or stoma cap in-between emptying. The pouch can be emptied by inserting a catheter into the stoma, which opens the valve and allows for evacuation. This is not an option for every patient or every diagnosis, so discussing the procedure with your health care provider is recommended.

Crohn’s Disease

A diagnosis that falls under the inflammatory bowel disease category, it can affect any part of the gastrointestinal system from the mouth to anus. This is a diagnosis that can have serious implications to the health of the patient, who will require their care to be supervised by a gastroenterologist.


A surgical procedure that involves the partial or total removal of the urinary bladder. This will result in the patient needing a urostomy or a continent urinary diversion.


This is a general term that describes skin irritation. When used to describe irritation on peristomal skin, it is generally caused by excess moisture or exposure to output. 


When you experience an increased amount of loose, watery, unformed stool frequently it would be classified as diarrhea. 


A medical procedure that involves stretching or widening a narrowed area of the bowel, for example, a stoma or an anastomosis site.


When the bowel becomes over-extended with gas, fluid, or stool. This can occur if there is an obstruction, frequent constipation, or significant inflammation.

Double Barrel Ostomy

A specialized type of stoma that is created not only to allow stool to be expelled but also to function as a mucus fistula. The ostomate will have two distinct stomas formed right next to each other. This style of stoma should be able to be pouched together and managed as one stoma but may require some extra steps to create a good seal. When there is no longer a need for a mucus fistula the stoma can often be reconstructed.

Diverticular Disease

A condition where small, bulging, pouches develop in the digestive tract. If these pouches become significantly inflamed or infected the condition is called diverticulitis and will require medical intervention. 


Another word for output from the stoma, which can include gas, stool, mucus, or urine.

End Ostomy

A stoma that is formed when only one portion of the bowel is used to form the stoma. This can be from the small or large intestines and is often done when the stoma is formed to be permanent.


This is a connection between two organs, or an organ and the skin surface, that is abnormal. They are common in people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and can cause pain and unwanted drainage. There are various reasons that a fistula might occur, and they almost always will need some form of medical intervention.

Flush Stoma

A stoma that does not protrude beyond the surface of the abdomen. This can happen because of surgical difficulties, or body changes after the initial stoma formation, such as weight gain or loss. This can cause some issues with getting a good barrier seal, and convex barriers might be needed to prevent leaking.

Food Bolus Obstruction

This is an obstruction that is specifically caused by a food mass. It becomes difficult or impossible to pass this mass through the stoma and can result in needing medical intervention. If you are not passing any stool and are experiencing pain, it is best to seek medical help. To help prevent this from happening make sure to thoroughly chew all food, drink plenty of water/liquids, and introduce new foods slowly. 


Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term used to describe two conditions: Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. These diseases are characterized by significant inflation in the bowel that causes lasting damage. There is no known cause for these diseases, and they can have a varying impact on the person’s life. Common symptoms of IBD are abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, skin complications, malnutrition, and vitamin deficiencies. IBD can fluctuate between periods of active disease and periods of remission. There are many treatments for IBD including medications and surgeries, however there is no cure. 


Irritable bowel syndrome is a common condition that includes symptoms of cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, and unpredictable bowel movements. There is no known cause, however stress and anxiety are often thought to trigger flare ups. No structural abnormalities are found in the bowel during diagnostic procedures, however, the bowel functions abnormally. 

Ileal Pouch-Anal Anastomosis

Also called IPAA, this procedure involves the surgical creation of a surgical pouch that is internal and collects stool. The J-Pouch is an example and is a common procedure for ulcerative colitis patients.


The final section of the small intestine where it then connects to the large intestine. This is a very common site for significant inflammation and damage in people living with Crohn’s Disease and is a common sight for ileostomy formation in ulcerative colitis patients. 


A name that is often used to describe someone living with an ileostomy. 


An ostomy that is created using a portion of the patient’s small intestine. It is a surgically formed opening from the small intestine that is brought through the abdomen and allows stool to be passed. This can be formed from any part of the small intestine depending on the condition that leads to the necessity of this procedure. An ostomy appliance (bag) is worn on the belly to collect the output.  

Ileal Conduit

Also called a urostomy, this is a stoma formed by removing a small segment of the ileum, or small intestine, and using it to form a path for urine to flow out of the body and into a pouch attached to the abdomen. Because a small portion of the bowel is used it is common for mucus to all pass through the stoma. 


A process that can be used by colostomates to flush out the contents of their colon using water. This is not something that every colostomate has the option to do, and can never be done by someone with an ileostomy. It can be a bit time-consuming, taking around an hour to complete, but makes bowel movements more consistent. Some people who irrigate choose to not wear a traditional ostomy bag, and instead opt for a stoma cap. This can be done when bowel movements have become very predictable. The process takes some practice and training, and should only be done with approval from your doctor or stoma nurse (WOCN).


In this case irritation refers to soreness, redness or inflammation of the skin. This is not the same as an allergic reaction and is often caused by moisture under the barrier. 

Loop Ostomy

This type of stoma is formed when both upstream and downstream openings of the bowel are brought through the abdomen. It can be done with both small and large intestines and is generally done when the stoma will be temporary as it is easier to reconnect. The stoma has two distinct openings with only one functioning to allow stool out of the body and into a bag.


A substance that is naturally produced in the body and lines the bowel walls. It is important to the function of passing stool and provides a protective layer. When there is inflammation present in the bowel walls you may see an increase in mucus production. Ostomates that still have their rectum in place will continue to pass mucus through their anus even if stool no longer passes through.

Mucus Fistula

A surgically created stoma that is used to help expel mucus into a bag attached to the abdomen. This will often be placed right next to the primary stoma and can be pouched and maintained together, but can also be placed anywhere on the abdomen.


A term used to describe a person who has any variety of a stoma.


A surgically created opening, called a stoma, that allows for stool, mucus, or urine to pass to a bag attached to the abdomen. The common varieties are colostomy, ileostomy, and urostomy. Ostomy and stoma are used interchangeably by many people.

Ostomy Reversal

Sometimes an ostomy is temporary and can be reversed. This means that the stoma is closed, and the bowel is reconnected. There are a variety of reasons that an ostomy will be reversed, and different forms of function that will be restored. It is always recommended to talk to your doctor about reversal to see if you are a good candidate, or if you have the option to keep your ostomy.


The waste that is collected in the ostomy pouch, including stool, urine, and mucus. The consistency of output is different for every ostomate and depends on the type of stoma, diet, and health


A type of ostomy surgery that involves the removal of the entire colon, rectum, and anus, and results in a permanent ostomy.

Parastomal Hernia

This type of hernia is specific to the abdominal area directly around the stoma. This occurs when the intestines protrude through the abdominal muscles and cause a bulge under the skin. Stoma surgery naturally weakens the abdominal wall making it more likely to develop this type of hernia. Prevention is always the best measure, however surgical intervention may be necessary if a hernia develops. 

Partial Colectomy

This is when only a section of the colon is removed. This can allow for the possibility of reconnection. It is sometimes referred to as subtotal colectomy.

Pelvic Exenteration

A surgical procedure that removes the bladder, urethra, rectum, and anus. This most often will lead to the necessity of forming a wet colostomy, in which stool and urine are passed through one stoma. 


The natural muscle contractions that help to move food through the digestive tract and allow stool to be expelled. Certain gastrointestinal motility or inflammatory disorders can interrupt this natural process and need medical intervention to restore some level of function. 

Permanent Ostomy/Stoma

An ostomy that has no option for reversal, the ostomate will live with their stoma for life. 

Phantom Rectum

A painful sensation experienced by some ostomates after the removal of their rectum. Some ostomates say that sitting on the toilet, even though you will not pass anything, can help ease the sensation. 


A surgical procedure that removes some or all of the rectum, and often includes the anus being permanently closed. 


A surgical procedure that removes the entire colon and the rectum. 

Prolapsed Stoma

A stoma that protrudes much further out from the abdomen than it is supposed to. This can happen right after surgery, or at any time after, and often needs surgical intervention. 

Protruding Stoma

A stoma that sticks out the desired length from the abdomen. Generally, this length is about one inch but varies from person to person.

Pyoderma Gangrenosum

A rare inflammatory condition that causes large and painful sores to develop on the skin, most commonly on the legs. It is more commonly seen in patients who have IBD, so are already dealing with an autoimmune disease. A version of this condition, called peristomal pyoderma gangrenosum, can appear under/around the barrier on the peristome skin and cause painful ulcerated lesions that can be difficult to heal. 

Recessed Stoma

A stoma that dips below skin level. This often is a result of how the stoma was surgically formed and will need convex products to help it protrude. 

Retracted Stoma

A stoma that dips below skin level. This is often the result of a protruding stoma that ends up retracting below the skin. A retracted stoma may revert back to its original state but may continue to retract at random. Convex products will likely be needed to help it protrude consistently. 


A surgical procedure to close the stoma and restore bowel function in another manner. There are various forms of reconnections.

Short Bowel Syndrome

A syndrome that occurs when enough bowel has been removed to greatly impact its ability to absorb critical nutrients. Patients with this syndrome will need extra assessments to make sure that their nutritional needs are being met, and may need additional medical intervention. 


A surgically created opening in the abdomen that has a portion of the bowel brought through. This allows for the passage of stool or urine out of the body. The stoma itself should be pink and moist and will have no feeling, as it has no nerve endings.

Subtotal Colectomy

A surgical procedure that involves the removal of part of the colon.

Temporary Ostomy/Stoma

A stoma that is created with the intent or possibility of it being reversed at a later time. There are many reasons someone might have a temporary ostomy including; bowel rest, plans to form an internal pouch, or due to an injury.

Total Colectomy

A surgical procedure where the entire colon is removed.

Transit Time

The time that it takes for the food you have eaten to make its way through the entire digestive tract and is expelled from the body. This is going to be different for each individual and can be affected by the length of bowel left after surgeries.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis falls under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and affects only the colon and rectum. The inflammation can cause bloody stool, urgency, frequency, and pain.


A common name that describes a person who has a urostomy. 


A type of ostomy that helps to divert urine outside of the body. It is a surgically created opening into the urinary system using an ideal conduit. Because this conduit is formed using intestinal tissue, mucus may also be passed through the stoma in addition to urine.

Wet Colostomy

A type of ostomy that is formed after pelvic exenteration, and allows stool and urine to be expelled together from the body through a single stoma.

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