A urostomy is an operation to make a new way for you to pass urine (pee) if your bladder has been removed. It is sometimes called an ileal conduit.

What is a urostomy (ileal conduit)?

A urostomy is a new way for you to pass urine (pee) if your bladder has been removed. It is sometimes called an ileal conduit.

Surgery to remove the bladder is called a cystectomy. You may have this as part of your treatment for bladder cancer.

How a urostomy is made

The surgeon makes the urostomy during the operation to remove the bladder. To make a urostomy the surgeon removes part of your small bowel (ileum) and joins the two ureters to one end of it. They bring the other open end of your bowel out through a small opening in the skin of your tummy. The opening is called a stoma.

The ureters carry urine from your kidneys to the piece of bowel. The piece of bowel acts as a channel (conduit), taking the urine to the surface of your tummy.

You place a flat, watertight bag over the stoma to collect your urine. The bag has a sticky back which keeps it in place. This fills with urine, and you will need to empty it regularly.

A urostomy (ileal conduit)

 

After surgery

For the first few days after your operation, your nurse will look after your urostomy for you. They will make sure that the bag is emptied and changed when needed.

The stoma

The stoma will be bruised and swollen at first. But it will shrink to its final size within a few weeks. At first, it is not unusual for the stoma to bleed slightly when cleaned. Your nurse will tell you more about this. The stoma will also produce mucus. This is a thick, white liquid. It might appear as pale threads in the urine.

As soon as you feel ready, your nurse will show you how to clean your stoma and change the bag. You may want to have a family member or friend with you while you are taught how to care for your stoma. This means they will know how to help you at home, if needed.

Going home

Before you leave the hospital, the nurse will make sure you have a supply of the equipment you need. This can include urostomy bags. When you are at home, you can get your equipment directly from a supplier or your chemist. Your nurse will tell you more about this. The Urostomy Association can also give you details of suppliers.

When you get home, you will still be able to speak to your specialist nurse for advice. The hospital staff will arrange for a district nurse or a community stoma nurse to visit you when you first leave the hospital. They can help you cope with any problems.

Living with a urostomy

Having a urostomy is a big change to your body. It can take time to get used to. Your specialist nurse will give you lots of support before and after your operation. They will show you how to care for and manage the stoma.

You may find it helpful to talk to someone who is used to living with a urostomy. Your stoma nurse may be able to arrange this for you. This can be very helpful, especially in the first few months after your operation.

Most people who have a urostomy get back to a normal life. Many go back to work and can do hobbies, including swimming. If you are worried about your life after surgery, you can talk to your stoma nurse.

Changing and emptying your bag

Before you change or empty your bag, make sure that you have plenty of bags and cleaning materials with you. It is a good idea to keep everything you need in one place, so that you do not have to search for things at the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time, so you can work at your own pace without any interruptions.

There are different types of bags available. Your nurse will help you choose one that suits you best. Most people who have a urostomy get back to a normal life. Many go back to work and can do hobbies, including swimming.

Appearance

Urostomy bags are flat. This means they will not be easily noticed under your clothes. How noticeable the bag is through your clothes depends on the size of the stoma and where the stoma is on your tummy.

Many people with a urostomy can wear their tightest clothes without anyone knowing they have a stoma bag. You may be very aware of your urostomy. But people will not usually notice it, unless you choose to tell them.

Using public toilets

You may feel anxious about going out in public. You might worry about needing to use a toilet to empty the urostomy bag.

Planning ahead so that you are prepared can help you feel more confident. We have more information about using public toilets.

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