An ileostomy is used to move waste out of the body through a surgically-created opening called a stoma. This surgery is done when the colon or rectum is not working properly. The word "ileostomy" comes from the words "ileum," which is the lowest part of the small intestine, and "stoma," which means opening. To make an ileostomy, the surgeon makes an opening in the belly wall and brings the end of the ileum through the opening. The ileum is then attached to the skin. The stoma is connected to a pouch, which needs to be emptied several times a day and changed periodically.
Review Date 4/14/2021
Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.