Urinary diversion, ileostomy and colostomy

• If your bladder and urethra have to be removed in an exenteration procedure, or you have a urinary fistula that cannot be closed, your surgeon will make a passage (called a conduit) from a section of your small bowel. The flow of urine is redirected from the kidney so that it drains through this passage. An opening called a stoma is made in the abdominal wall, and the urine drains continuously into a bag that is worn on the abdomen. Sometimes 'continent' urinary diversions can be made. These collect urine like a bladder behind the abdominal wall and are emptied by passing a catheter into the stoma.

• If some of your bowel has been removed, or you have a bowel blockage or rectovaginal fistula, you may need an ileostomy or a colostomy. The stoma is made in the abdominal wall, and this allows the contents of the bowel to be collected in a bag that is worn on the abdomen. Depending on your health, the reason that the stoma was made and what part of the bowel has been removed, you may be able to have the ileostomy or colostomy closed some months later. However most stomas created for patients with gynaecological cancer are permanent.

• If you have urinary diversion and/or an ileostomy or colostomy, you will be given counselling before the operation, and help afterwards until you are able to manage the stoma(s) yourself.