Conditions That Cause an Ostomy

An ostomy is typically performed when a patient’s urinary or digestive system isn’t working normally and other, less invasive solutions can’t fix the problem. An ostomy may be temporary, to allow your body to heal. Or it may be permanent, if certain organs must be removed or can no longer function. 

Sometimes an ostomy is a lifesaving emergency procedure. In other cases, people  choose to have ostomy surgery to improve their quality of life. Your healthcare provider can answer questions about whether an ostomy is the right course of action for your health condition.

Conditions That May Require a Colostomy

Some conditions that may require a colostomy include:

  • Diverticulitis, which is the infection or inflammation of pouches in your intestines
  • Ulcerative colitis, which causes inflammation and sores in the large intestine and/or rectum
  • Crohn’s disease, which involves inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract
  • Colorectal cancer, which may require the removal of all or part of the colon or rectum
  • Acute injury to the colon, which may result from trauma such as a car wreck, a bike accident, a fall or a gunshot wound
  • A partial colectomy, in which a diseased section of the colon is removed
  • A bowel obstruction or blockage
  • A birth defect
  • A complex anal fistula, which is an infected tunnel that forms between the anus and the skin
  • Incurable fecal incontinence, which involves loss of control over bowel movements


Some of these conditions may require a temporary colostomy, which is performed when your digestive system needs to heal after a surgery, inflammation or blockage. This surgery can be reversed after a few weeks or months, returning your digestive system to its normal function. Other conditions require a permanent, lifelong colostomy.

Conditions That May Require an Ileostomy

An ileostomy diverts the ileum, which is the lowest part of the small intestine, to a stoma. Just as for a colostomy, an ileostomy may be temporary or permanent. Conditions that may lead to an ileostomy include:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Bowel obstruction or blockage
  • Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), which is a rare hereditary condition that causes precancerous polyps called adenomas to develop in the large intestine

Conditions That May Require a Urostomy

A urostomy diverts urine from the kidneys to the stoma, where it is collected in a urostomy pouch. Urostomies are performed when the bladder is damaged or malfunctioning in some way, preventing urine from leaving the body normally. Conditions that may require a urostomy include:


  • Bladder cancer, if all or part of the bladder must be removed
  • Interstitial cystitis, a condition that causes pelvic pain and problems urinating
  • Neurologic dysfunction of the bladder
  • Chronic infection of the bladder
  • Trauma to the bladder
  • Birth defects
  • Chronic incontinence due to spinal cord injury, previous radiation therapy or other causes

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