Ostomy, Stoma, Colostomy, Ileostomy, And Urostomy: What Is The Difference?


Specific terms for ostomies are being used interchangeably. These include ostomy/stoma and colostomy, to name both types of fecal diversions. The terms pertaining to ostomies had been used interchangeably to name different kinds of fecal stomas. These are Colostomies and Ileostomy. It is critical to understand the definitions of interchangeable terminology because they are not the same. This blog will focus on the meanings of the interchangeable terminology and provide information about the difference between fecal and urinary diversions.


Ostomies are surgically created openings to eliminate stool or urine from the body. The most common types of ostomies are colostomy, ileostomy, and urostomy. The indications for an ostomy vary from birth defects, cancer (colon/rectal/bladder), and noncancerous diseases (inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s, diverticular, severe neurogenic bladder). The stoma is the opening created in the loop or end of the intestine. The intestine is brought up through the ostomy in the abdominal wall, is cuffed back like a shirt sleeve, and sutured in place on the skin.


Colostomies can be permanent or temporary. There are several different types of colostomies and are named in the location of the colon. The ascending colostomy is typically located in the right lower quadrant. The transverse colostomy is in any area of the upper quadrants, and the descending and sigmoid colostomies are typically located in the left lower quadrant of the abdomen. The stool output consistency with ascending and transverse colostomies are typically semi-formed, and the descending and sigmoid colostomies are more solidly formed.


The Ileostomy can be permanent or temporary. The stoma is located in the distal small intestine of the ileum and is typically located in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. The size of the stoma is smaller than a colostomy, and the stool output consistency is liquid. Due to partial or complete removal of the large intestine, there is a decreased absorption function. The reduced absorption can cause ileostomy patients to have an alteration of electrolytes and become dehydrated.


Urostomy is a permanent procedure. The Urostomy is most commonly created by removing the bladder, using a piece of the ileum as a conduit suturing the internal end, and bringing the other end through the ostomy to create a stoma. The ureters are then implanted into the conduit.


In summary, understanding the terms related to ostomies and the different types of stomas will help in application and care. Each ostomy procedure is performed for a variety of reasons. Although these ostomies have many similarities, they also have significant differences.


  • Berti-Hearn, L., & Elliott, B. (2019a, March/April). Colostomy Care. Home Healthc Now, 37(2), 68-78. doi:10.1097/NHH.0000000000000735
  • Berti-Hearn, L., & Elliott, B. (2019b, May/June). Ileostomy Care. Home Healthc Now, 37(3), 136-144. doi:10.1097/NHH.0000000000000776
  • Berti-Hearn, L., & Elliott, B. (2019c, September/October). Urostomy Care. Home Healthc Now, 37(5), 148-255. doi:10.1097/NHH.0000000000000792
  • Keck Dotty, S. (n.d.). Spotlight on Ostomy. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!, 17(5), 32-41. doi:10.1097/NME.0000577592.05137.f9
  • Kirkland-Kyhn, H., Martin, S., Zaratkiewicz, S., Whitmore, M., & Young, H. M. (2018, April). Ostomy Care at Home. American Journal of Nursing, 118(4), 63-68.

Important Notice: The views and opinions stated in this blog are exclusively those of the author and do not reflect iWound Global, iWound Care USA, Inc., its affiliates, or partner companies. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.