Glossary of Medical Terms

These are products that may be used to enhance the performance of your pouching system. Examples: paste, ostomy belt, skin barrier rings.

A negative response to a substance. In ostomy care, a person may be allergic to some part of the pouch system, such as the tape. However, allergies are fairly uncommon and there may be other reasons for a reaction to a material.

Barrier opening
The barrier opening is defined by the pre-cut hole in the skin barrier. It is usually the same size as the stoma, but should not be smaller than the diameter of the stoma.

Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer is a malignant growth caused by cell changes in the lining or wall of the bladder. If it affects only the lining of the bladder it is known as superficial cancer. If it has spread into the muscle wall it is called invasive cancer.

Bladder reconstruction
The bladder may be partly or totally reconstructed using a portion of bowel.

A fine tube. This is used to drain the bladder or a continent urinary pouch.

Treatment that involves the use of prescription drugs. It may be specific to a type of disease such as cancer chemotherapy. These drugs may have an effect on the output from the stoma.

None of the bladder is removed. The bladder is split side to side like a clam shell. A portion of bowel is then opened and sutured to the split sides. This will improve bladder capacity but also reduce activity in an overactive bladder.

Another term for the large intestine.

Colonic Conduit
This is a specific type of urinary diversion. A segment of colon (large intestine) is used as a pipeline (conduit) to divert urine. The urine flows from the kidneys, down the ureters, through the conduit and out the stoma. The conduit is not a reservoir for urine. The output from the stoma is urine and mucus. The bladder may be bypassed or removed.

Colour match
Colours are used to match compatible pouches and skin barriers in some two-piece systems. The colour appears on the boxes and on the individual resealable packages that the skin barriers come in. The products themselves are NOT coloured.

A surgically created opening into the large intestine or colon.

Comfort backing pouch panels
These panels are available on some ostomy pouches and provide a soft layer between the pouch film and the skin, where the stoma is flat, recessed or retracted.

Continent Urinary Diversion
No external appliance is necessary. A continent diversion is formed to reconstruct or replace the damaged or diseased bladder. A portion of large or small bowel is used to make an internal reservoir (pouch). There are several types of continent urinary diversions, ‘clam’ enterocystoplasty, mitrofanoff, substitution cystoplasty, neo/orthotopic bladder, and rectal bladder.

This is the outward curving of the portion of the pouch that has contact with the skin, usually the skin barrier. The convex shape provides form to the skin barrier and support to the peristomal skin.

Cut-to-fit barrier
A cut-to-fit barrier needs to be cut before it is applied to the body. There may or may not be a small starter hole in the centre of the skin barrier where scissors can be placed to make cutting easier. A cut-to-fit barrier is ideal if the stoma is still changing sizes or if the shape of the stoma is not round.

Surgical removal of the urinary bladder. Partial cystectomy is when only a part of the bladder is removed. Radical cystectomy is when the entire bladder is removed. This is usually if cancer is present. In men the bladder and prostate are removed. In women, the bladder, womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed.

Generic term to refer to the output from a stoma.

Drainable pouch
A pouch that opens from the bottom to empty the contents. A drainable pouch requires some type of clamp on the bottom to keep it closed. A person with a colostomy or ileostomy (NOT a urostomy) would use this type of pouch.

Generic term to refer to the output from a stoma. May be urine or stool.

This is the plastic from which the pouch is made.

The flange is a plastic ring that is on a two-piece pouch system. The flange on the pouch and the flange on the skin barrier must match to create a secure pouching system.

Flat skin barrier
The skin barrier on this product is NOT curved or convex. It may be part of a one-piece or two-piece system.

Healthcare professional
Generic term to describe a variety of people involved in health care: doctor, SCN and pharmacist—to name just a few.

Ileal conduit
This is a specific type of urinary diversion. A segment of ileum (small intestine) is used as a pipeline (conduit) to divert urine. The urine flows from the kidneys, down the ureters, through the conduit and out the stoma. The conduit is not a reservoir for urine. The output from the stoma is urine and mucus. The bladder may be bypassed or removed.

A surgically created opening through the abdomen that leads into the small intestine.

Last section of the small intestine before it connects to the colon.

Incision line
Location where an incision (cut made in the skin) was made during an operation. In ostomy surgery, it may be on the abdomen, around the base of the stoma or in the perineum.

Interstitial Cystitis
Is a chronic inflammation of the bladder. It is not believed to be caused by a bacteria therefore does not respond to antibiotics. Males and females may be affected but it is more common in women. Symptoms may include severe urinary frequency, urgency and abdominal, urethral or vaginal pain.

Any inflammation or soreness. In ostomy care, it usually refers to the skin. Skin irritation may present as reddened, open and/or moist skin.

The Mitrofanoff procedure creates a channel which acts in the same way as a urethra. This surgery is undertaken if the normal urethra can not be used to drain urine from the bladder. A urinary pouch is created, or the native bladder is used. A channel is created using the appendix or a portion of bowel or even ureter. One end is connected to the pouch or bladder and the other end is brought out onto the abdominal wall to form a small stoma (opening). A catheter may then be passed along this channel into the pouch or bladder to drain urine. A special valve in the channel prevents urine leaking out of the stoma and therefore an external appliance is not necessary.

A viscous suspension that is normally secreted by the body. Mucus in the bowel helps with lubrication. May be seen in the discharge of a colostomy or urostomy.

A substitute or new bladder that is placed in the same location as the old bladder. If the bladder has to be removed, a new bladder may be reconstructed using bowel segments. Sometimes this operation is also known as Orthotopic Bladder Replacement as the new bladder is positioned in the same place as where the original one was removed. The new bladder is connected onto the urethra (water pipe) and urine is then passed naturally. Some people may have to use a catheter (fine tube) to empty the bladder completely.

If there is an obstruction in the lower urinary tract this procedure may be necessary. A fine tube is inserted through the skin into one or both kidneys to allow urine to drain safely and quickly. The tube (s) is attached to a drainage bag. A radiologist performs this procedure using x-rays and scanning equipment.

Night drainage bag
A large collection bag for urine. A person with a urostomy can connect the pouch to a night drainage bag.

Occlusive tape
This is a plastic film with adhesive that may be used to help hold an ostomy pouch on to the skin. Occlusive tape does not allow moisture vapour to pass through the tape.

Odour-barrier film
Pouch film that is highly resistant to letting odours pass through while the pouch is worn.

One-piece pouch
A one-piece system includes a skin barrier and pouch that are already attached. Most one-piece pouching systems do not include a plastic ring or flange that limits the ability of the pouch to flex with changes in the body. Generally, a one-piece system is more flexible than a two-piece system.

This refers to pouch film that is coloured—either white or beige. It is designed to help conceal the contents of the pouch.

A surgically created opening into the gastrointestinal (bowel) or urinary system. This is a general term and is sometimes used interchangeably with the word stoma, which is a greek word for mouth or opening.

Peristomal skin
This refers to the skin immediately around the stoma. Usually the adhesive of the pouching system covers the peristomal skin.

Porous paper tape
This is paper with adhesive that may be used to help hold an ostomy pouch on the skin. Porous tape allows moisture vapour to pass through the tape and not be trapped on the skin. Sometimes refered to as “breathable” tape.

The bag that collects the discharge from the stoma.

The barrier opening on these products has already been cut for added convenience. The sizes are listed and should be selected based upon your stoma size. Ideal if your stoma has a round shape.

Radiation therapy
Treatment that involves the use of therapeutic radiation. Usually used specifically in the treatment of cancer. This treatment may influence the output from the stoma, the condition of the skin and the surface of the stoma.

Stoma care nurse. A nurse with specialised education in the care of people with stomas.

Skin barrier
A product placed on the body for the purpose of protecting the skin. Skin barriers are adhesive, but have different properties based upon formulation.

Refers to a muscle that surrounds and closes an opening. When a stoma is created, the sphincter that allows for control of output is bypassed. A stoma does not have a sphincter.

Stock number
This number is unique to a specific product and assures that the correct size and features are provided based on an individual selection.

A surgically created opening into the gastrointestinal (bowel) or urinary system. This is a general term and is sometimes used interchangeably with the word ostomy. The stoma is red, moist and is not painful.

Stoma measuring guide
A card used to measure the stoma at the base. This information is useful in selecting the right size pouch or skin barrier.

Term used to define waste material from the bowel. Also known as faeces.

Suprapubic catheter
A catheter is inserted through the abdominal wall into the bladder. The catheter is then attached to a urine bag so that the bladder is drained constantly. A suprapubic catheter is inserted if the normal urethra (water pipe) cannot be used or it may be preferable to a urethral catheter.

Tape border
This is a product that has tape around the outside of the skin barrier—like a picture frame. It helps to hold your pouching system securely in place and to protect your skin barrier.

Tapered barrier
This unique design means the skin barrier is thicker around the stoma for greater protection and yet thinner at the outside edge. This means no tape and a more flexible, comfortable system.

Transparent pouch
The pouch film on this product is designed to allow you to see the pouch contents. This is preferred in some situations.

Two-piece pouch
A two-piece system includes a skin barrier with flange and a pouch with flange. The two flanges lock together to create the pouch system. The flanges influence the flexibility of the pouch because they are plastic and, therefore, not as flexible as a skin barrier alone.

The ureter is a narrow muscular tube which drains urine from the kidneys into the bladder.

The urethra is the tube which conveys urine from the bladder to the outside.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)
An infection that typically involves the kidneys or bladder. Some warning signs of a urinary tract infection include dark cloudy urine, strong smelling urine, back pain, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

An ileal or colonic conduit. A small portion of bowel is isolated and used to form a conduit (channel). The remaining bowel is sewn back together. The tubes from the kidneys are sewn into the isolated part of the bowel. A hole is cut in the abdomen so that the open end of the bowel passes through this and is called a stoma. Urine drains continuously from the stoma so a urostomy bag with a tap is attached to the skin by adhesive.

Urostomy pouch
This type of pouch has a drain tap or spout at the end since it is designed to drain liquid contents (usually urine) from a pouch. A person with a urostomy or urinary diversion would use this type of pouch.

Wear time
This is the length of time a product can be worn before failure. Failure is usually the result of barrier erosion or separation from the skin surface. Wear time varies widely. The goal of selecting an appropriate ostomy product is to provide a predictable and consistent wear time.

Latest News

Fundraising Lead – part time, home based

A vacancy has arisen at the Urostomy Association for a paid, professional, fundraising lead, with a proven successful track record, who can lead on the development of a new fundraisingRead More

Cancer 51 Patient Survey

Cancer52 is a charity and an alliance of patient groups and charities that represent those with rare and less common cancers. You can find out more at The organisation isRead More