Role of the stoma nurse

Written by michele m. howard
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Role of the stoma nurse
A stoma nurse provides health care and support. (nurse on duty image by Pix by Marti from Fotolia.com)

A stoma nurse plays an important role for people who have surgery that requires the use of a stoma. They are at your side at every step of the way through the procedure providing expert care and advice. The stoma nurse educates you, answers questions, prepares you emotionally and helps you make life-changing decisions.

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What is a Stoma

The word "stoma" is Greek in origin and means opening or mouth. It is formed surgically for the purpose of collecting waste, either faeces or urine. A stoma connected to your bowel or intestine will collect faeces and, if connected to your ureter, it will collect urine. A pouch or reservoir bag can then be attached to the stoma to collect waste outside of the body.

Reason for a Stoma

A stoma can be permanent or temporary, depending on the kind of operation and the amount of bowel or urinary tract that is removed. Certain kinds of bladder or bowel cancers, an injury to the bowels or Crohn's disease are all reasons that a stoma may be used.

Pre-Operative Care

A stoma nurse will meet with patients and their families prior to the operation to explain the procedure, answer any questions or concerns that you may have and to provide emotional support. They will also provide you with all the necessary information through literature. A stoma nurse will determine the best location for the stoma and help you decide which type of pouch or bag system will work best for you.

Assist Surgeons

A stoma nurse will work closely with the surgeon in determining the best location for the stoma given a person's body type and lifestyle. When the patient is admitted to the hospital, the nurse may place a mark on the patient's abdomen as a guide for the surgeon.

Post-Operative Care

After the surgery, the stoma nurse will carry out the surgeon's orders and work with other hospital staff to help treat and care for the wound to make sure it heals properly. They will show you how to care for your stoma and how to empty and change out the bags or pouches. The stoma nurse will prepare you for discharge and get you ready for living at home. Some stoma nurses will make a few home visits to check on the care management of the stoma.

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