Lefty Or Righty? – Stoma Siting
If I haven’t already peaked your interest, then I will have to explain what the above title is about. For everyone with a stoma, you may not even think about its location on the body. It is something that has been bugging me for a while, as my stoma is sited on the left and most people that I follow have a right-sided stoma. So am I rare with mine being on the left, or is it something else that caused my stoma to be sited on my left side for both of the surgeries I have had in the last two years?
I decided to run some polls across my various platforms to ask this question: are you a lefty or a righty regarding stoma location?
200 people participated and the results are as follows:
Lefty – 21% – 42 people
Righty – 79% – 158 people
Running the polls was something of an engagement test to see if people would respond and comment. Now, the end result of this was rather squiffy, as most of my followers are people with IBD & stomas. This isn’t a correct figure within the ostomy community as a whole. There are also the ‘double baggers’ with either a colostomy/ileostomy and a urostomy, so my figures aren’t really that accurate.
As always, this led my overactive brain to see if there are reasons as to why an ileostomy would be sited on the left, as they are predominantly sited on the right. Why were a good percentage of the 42 who had left-sided ileostomies Crohn’s disease patients? Mine was sited on the left as my small bowel is adhered to scar tissue. There’s not a lot of it left and thanks to inner scar tissue and mesh, what’s left of my intestines can’t be stretched over to make me a righty. I don’t have any issues with the site and I find it easier to manage. However, any more bowel removal and I will be going into jejunostomy territory.
The relevance of stoma siting
Patients who are classed as having elective stoma surgery always see a stoma nurse to have markers drawn on the abdomen where the stoma will be placed. A lot of factors are taken into consideration when having the placement marked. They will also take note of the type of clothing you wear, so that waistbands don’t impact the stoma further on down the line.
Places they won’t site a stoma:
- On scars
- In, or on, an abdominal crease
- Bony areas
- Near the belly button
Places they will site the stoma:
- Near the rectus abdominal muscles
- Upper curve of the abdomen
- Below your belly button
For those facing emergency surgery, there may not be time to correctly site your stoma, which can occasionally lead to problems further down the line if located on a crease, as they can’t tell when you’re on the theatre table and laid out flat.
I found having my tummy marked up with my previous surgery rather fascinating and extended the cross marks with the permanent marker at the time. You will notice with the marker sites that I had both the left and right marked, as the surgeon couldn’t ascertain which side to place the stoma on until he had opened me up.
They typically mark you up a week prior to the surgery. You can keep the markers covered with a dressing and report if they start fading.
Which stoma is sited where?
Why are the stomas placed on this side? Does the placement depend upon which type of ostomy you have?
Left or right-sided is typically based on the type of stoma you have. Colostomies are predominantly left-sided, ileostomies are predominantly right-sided and urostomies are placed on the right side, as they typically use part of the ileum to form the conduit to the outside of the body.
I found this information rather interesting, as I have a permanent ileostomy and mine is left-sided purely due to lack of bowel and large amounts of scar tissue. Having a left-sided stoma doesn’t bother me and I find it easier to empty and manage.
As always many thanks for reading,
This blog post is intended to give advice to ostomates. The information given is based on Louise’s personal experience and should not be taken as clinical advice. Each ostomates needs are unique to them and their stoma care routine. Please consult with your Stoma Care Nurse before undertaking any changes to your stoma care routine.