The Process of Digestion and Care of a Patient with Stoma

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Table of Contents

  • The Functions of the Digestive System
  • The Steps of the Digestive System
  • What is a Stoma?
  • Bibliography

The Functions of the Digestive System

The digestive system breaks down food by mechanical and chemical process. The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract. The gastrointestinal tract is the pathway from the mouth to the anus. This is where nutrients and energy from food and fluids are reabsorbed, and waste is excreted in faeces and urine (Burch, 2013). Understanding the process of digestion can help nurses in the care of a child who has a stoma.

The Steps of the Digestive System

The first step of the digestive system is the mechanical and chemical process which takes place in the mouth. This is where food and fluid in the mouth are broken down when it is chewed with the help of enzyme called amylase found in the saliva. After the food is swallowed it travels through the oesophagus and enters the stomach for further digestion by enzymes (The digestive and excretory systems review, 2019). The stomach is where majority of proteins are digested. From the stomach, the digested food and fluid are passed into the small intestine which consists of the duodenum, jejunum and ileum (Burch, 2013). In the small intestine more digestive enzymes are added to the bowel contents. Inside the small intestine most of the nutrients in the food are reabsorbed back into the body leaving. The duodenum joins the stomach to the jejunum. In the jejunum the pH of the content changes to allow a suitable environment for enzymes to digest the food further. Partially digested food and fluid in the jejunum is passed into the ileum. The Ileum is where the majority of nutrients are absorbed. From the small intestine the digested food and fluid is passed into the large intestine. This is the final chemical digestion process in which water and electrolytes are absorbed and faeces formed. The rectum is the last part of the large intestine, it is where bowel movement takes places. The anal sphincter, is a muscle that allows the control of bowel movement when needed (The GI Tract - Ostomy Care & Supply, 2019)

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What is a Stoma?

A stoma is an artificial opening which is on the abdomen. Stoma is necessary to divert the flow of faeces or urine into an external pouch instead of the rectum and out of the anus. A bag fits around the opening to collect the waste contents. Reasons for why stomas are made is due to Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), short bowel syndrome or bowel obstruction. The digestion system can help nurses in the care of a child who has a stoma. It will help to create a better understanding of the differing roles involved in the care of a child with a stoma (Waller, 2008).

Nurses should be able to explain what stoma is to patients and purpose of having stoma. The way to provide such information is to understand the digestive system. For example stoma may be necessary in children due to a bowel obstruction. Therefore nurses can provide information to the patient about why stoma is need. Bowel obstruction is the obstruction of the intestines which prevents the normal movement of the products of digestion. In the case of bowel obstruction stoma is need to complete the digestive process. This is because bowel obstruction makes it difficult to pass stool (Bowel obstruction: Symptoms, causes, treatment, and diet, 2019). The last stage of the digestive process takes place in the rectum where waste product are removed from the body via the anus. This process therefore can't be completed if there is bowel obstruction.

Furthermore stoma created on the abdomen link to organs in the digestive system. The stoma has two openings that are close together. One is connected to the functioning part of the bowel. For example stomas such as colostomy is created with the loop of the large intestine, allow faeces to leave your body without passing through anus (Colostomy, 2019). Understanding the digestive system allows nurses understand the function of stoma.

The digestive system and stoma go hand in hand as stomas are formed on digestive organs such the small or large intestine. Stomas complete the digestive process.


  1. Burch, J. (2013). Care of patients with a stoma. Nursing Standard, 27(32), 49-56. doi: n 10.7748/ns2013. (Burch, 2013)
  2. Bowel obstruction: Symptoms, causes, treatment, and diet. (2019). Retrieved 12 December 2019, from
  3. Caring for the Ostomy Patient || (2019). Retrieved 11 December 2019, from
  4. Colostomy. (2019). Retrieved 12 December 2019, from
  5. Contributor, N. (2019). Gastrointestinal tract 5: the anatomy and functions of the large intestine | Nursing Times. Retrieved 12 December 2019, from
  6. Essential care for patients with stomas | Nursing Times. (2019). Retrieved 12 December 2019, from ('Essential care for patients with stomas | Nursing Times', 2019)
  7. Large, Bowel, Intestinal, Obstruction I Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Retrieved 12 December 2019, from
  8. Slater, R. (2011). Paediatric stoma care: surgery and management. Gastrointestinal Nursing, 9(6), 20-26. doi: 10.12968/gasn.2011.9.6.20
  9. The digestive and excretory systems review. (2019). Retrieved 12 December 2019, from
  10. The GI Tract - Ostomy Care & Supply. (2019). Retrieved 11 December 2019, from
  11. Waller, S., Chalmers, F., Jowett, A., & Disley, H. (2009). Achieving RCN accreditation for SecuriCare stoma care clinical nursing standards. Gastrointestinal Nursing, 7(1), 36-39. doi: 10.12968/gasn.2009.7.1.39372

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