Growing Your DME Business: What is an Ostomy?

Published in Member Communities on December 28, 2022

Heather Trumm

By Heather Trumm, Director, VGM Wound Care

Many times, we as DME businesses work with patients that have an ostomy and may not know exactly what it entails or the reason for the ostomy.   

An ostomy is a surgically-created opening (stoma) that causes a change in the way urine or stool exits the body. The stoma is located on the abdomen and, generally, a pouching system is worn over top of the stoma to collect the urine or stool.1 

There may be multiple reasons why a person has an ostomy, some of which include cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, birth defect, diverticulitis, or other medical conditions.  

The following are the most common types of ostomies we see, but not limited to:   

  • Ileostomy – a surgically-created opening from the small intestine (ileum) brought out through the abdominal wall to form a stoma. This bypasses the colon, rectum, and anus, and it could be temporary or permanent.   
  • Colostomy – a surgically-created opening from the large intestine that is brought out through the abdominal wall to form a stoma. This bypasses the rectum and the anus. 
  • Urostomy – A surgical procedure that diverts urine away from the bladder. Generally, a portion of the small bowel is used as a conduit for urine to pass from the kidneys to the outside of the body through a stoma.   

Today, there are many tools and resources that patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals have access to in aiding in the management of ostomies. For example, the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Society has an “Ostomy DME Provider Checklist,” along with a guidance document regarding the various uses of the checklist. There are multiple reasons the checklist was created. Take a look at the attached and please tell your patients about this very useful tool.   

For DME businesses looking to expand their offerings, these ostomy “basics” can help you get started on this particular area of wound care. Stay tuned for upcoming ostomy blogs, where we will dive into the various types of appliances and their function in relation to ostomies. For any questions, feel free to reach out to me at heather.trumm@vgm.com. 

1. United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. What is an Ostomy? United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. website. Accessed December 2, 2022. ostomy.org/what-is-an-ostomy/ 


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