An ostomy is a surgically created opening in the abdomen that allows waste to drain from the urinary or digestive system. Ostomy surgeries are often performed on babies and children who can’t pass stool or urine normally due to a disease or an anatomical defect.
About Pediatric Colostomies/Ileostomies
A pediatric colostomy is a procedure in which the large intestine is connected to an abdominal stoma. A pediatric ileostomy is similar, except that it connects the small intestine to the stoma.
These procedures may be performed if a baby or child has:
- Certain birth defects that prevent stool from passing normally, such as spina bifida, Hirschsprung disease, or an imperforate anus (when the opening of the anus is missing or blocked)
- A fistula that is spilling waste into the bladder
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Trauma to the colon or rectum
- An infection in the intestines
- A serious intestinal or bowel blockage
Pediatric colostomy or ileostomy is often temporary, and can be reversed after the intestine or rectum heals.
About Pediatric Urostomy
A pediatric urostomy is a procedure in which the urine is redirected from the kidneys to the stoma, where it flows into a collection pouch. A small piece of the small intestine is removed and turned into a conduit for urine, called the ileal stoma. (The ends of the small intestine are reconnected and function normally.)
Pediatric urostomies are most often performed if a baby or child has a birth defect that prevents normal urination, such as spina bifida or bladder exstrophy, in which the bladder forms outside the body.
Caring for Your Child’s Ostomy
It’s natural to worry about the ostomy procedure and how your child will adapt. Know that your child can live an active, happy and healthy life with an ostomy.
Your child’s health care support team will teach you how to care for your child’s stoma and peristomal skin, how to apply and change the ostomy pouching system, and how to provide emotional and social support for your child. This video from UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital covers the basics of caring for a child’s stoma and applying a pouch.
Here are a few tips for pediatric ostomy care:
- Your child’s stoma should be red or pink. It may temporarily change color when a child is crying, and that’s normal.
- The stoma doesn’t hurt, because it has no nerve endings. Because it’s delicate, it may bleed slightly and briefly when rubbed or touched.
- The stoma will shrink in the first eight weeks after surgery. Use a pediatric stoma measuring guide to make sure the skin barrier fits correctly.
- You can bathe your baby or child as you normally would. Water and soap won’t flow into the stoma.
- Teach your child how to help with their ostomy care and pouch changes, once they’re old enough.
- Peristomal skin care is essential. Keep a close eye on the skin around your child’s stoma, and call their nurse or healthcare provider if you notice signs of irritation or injury.
- Keep a supply of pediatric ostomy products. Pediatric pouching systems and ostomy accessories are made specifically for ease of use and children’s sensitive skin.
Pediatric Ostomy Resources
These guides can help parents and children learn ostomy care and coping skills.