An ostomy is a surgically created opening connecting an internal organ to the surface of the body. The opening on a person's abdomen is called a stoma. Different kinds of stomas are named for the organ involved. The most common types of ostomies in intestinal surgery are an "ileostomy" (connecting the ileal part of the small intestine to the abdominal wall) and a "colostomy" (connecting the colon, or, large intestine to the abdominal wall).
A stoma may be temporary or permanent. A temporary stoma may be required if the intestinal tract can't be properly prepared for surgery because of blockage by disease or scar tissue. A temporary stoma may also be created to allow inflammation or an operative site to heal without contamination by stool. Temporary stoma can usually be reversed with minimal or no loss of intestinal function. A permanent stoma may be required when disease, or its treatment, impairs normal intestinal function, or when the muscles that control elimination do not work properly or require removal. The most common causes of these conditions are low rectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.