Frequently Asked Questions - The Ostomy Center

1) What is an Ostomy?
"Ostomy" is derived from Greek and means a surgically created opening of the skin connecting an internal organ to the surface of the body. The most common types of ostomies are ileostomy, connecting the intestine to the skin; colostomy, connecting the large intestine to the skin; and a urostomy, diverting urine away from a diseased or defective bladder. Some ostomies are temporary, and some are permanent, depending upon the patient's medical condition.

2) Who needs an Ostomy?If circumstances dictate the need for an ostomy, your surgeon will discuss this with you. Patients undergoing treatment for blockages and disturbances to organ functions due to cancer, diverticulitis, trauma, para or quadriplegia, Crohns' disease, ulcerative colitis, pressure ulcers in the sacral area or urological problems may benefit from an ostomy.

3) If I have an ostomy, will my physical activities be limited?
Usually no. You are probably unaware that most likely, some of your friends or acquaintances have an ostomy. All of your usual activities, including sports, may be resumed once healing from the surgery is complete. Of course, you should check with your doctors about resuming your daily activities and sports so they can assist you to return to maximum health as early as possible.

4) When should I seek medical assistance?
You should seek medical assistance if you experience severe cramps lasting more than two to three hours, a deep cut in the stoma, excessive drainage from the stoma opening or a moderate amount of blood in the pouch after several emptyings. Also seek medical assistance for severe skin irritation or deep ulcers, unusual change in size and appearance or severe discharge lasting more than five to six hours. If an ileostomy does not have any output for six hours and is accompanied by cramping and nausea or vomiting seek medical assistance.

5) Where can I find help?Call your surgeon or the GBMC wound, ostomy and continence nurse at 443-849-6215.

6) Will my treatment be covered by my insurance?All patients require a prescription for an "Evaluation and Management of Ostomy and Supplies." The prescription can be from either your primary care physician or surgeon. Treatment is reimbursable through Medicare, most managed care organizations and private commercial carriers. Some managed care plans may require pre-authorization from your primary care physician.

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