An ileostomy is when your surgeon opts to pull the end of the small intestine out through the abdomen, diverting the passage of wastes away from the colon.
The opening created as a result of this surgery is known as a stoma. To manage your ileostomy, you will need to wear an ostomy bag over the stoma. This bag will collect bodily wastes.
When do you need an ileostomy?
The purpose of an ileostomy is to prevent the passage of wastes through the full length of the GI tract. This bowel diversion can be permanent or temporary, depending on the underlying condition and its severity.
Some reasons why you may need an ileostomy can include the following.
- Your surgeon wants the lower section of your GI tract to heal from a disease or injury. People usually get ileostomies as a treatment for colon cancer.
- You have inflammatory bowel disease, and your surgeon realizes that the only chance to help you get back your health is to give you an ileostomy.
- Your surgeon wants to perform complex surgery on your rectum or anus.
Before surgery, you will see a specialized stoma care nurse who will tell you about what a stoma is and how you can manage it after surgery. Listening to what he or she says can help you with the stoma care regimen afterward.
The two types of ileostomies that you will get are the following.
- Loop ileostomy: This ileostomy procedure involves a loop of the small bowel being pulled through the abdominal wall. The surgeon will make a small incision on the top of the colon to create the stoma opening. The hole that leads to the rectum and anus will be sealed, while the one opening the active GI tract will remain open.
- End ileostomy: The surgeon will create this ileostomy by pulling the end of the small bowel after disconnecting it from the colon. The remaining part of the bowel will be removed or left inside to heal.
Your surgeon will see if he can create an internal pouch inside your abdomen to eliminate the need to wear an ostomy bag. This internal reservoir will connect to an abdominal opening through a valve, consisting of living tissues from the bowel. The best thing about this internal reservoir is that it doesn’t push waste materials out through the stoma until you insert a catheter into it. It means that you will need to empty this reservoir manually.
Another option that your surgeon can consider is connecting your small intestine to the anal canal. He will create a pouch by folding the end of the small bowel into itself and adjusting that pouch over the anal canal. He will make a small incision at the bottom of the pouch to allow the passage of wastes to leave the body through the anus.
After surgery, you will need to take care of your ileostomy the way your doctor and nurse tells you. There will be some diet restrictions, which will remain in place until your bowel recovers fully. Once your bowel recovers, you can eat pretty much everything you like. You will have to ask your doctor, though.
You can engage in all sorts of physical activities. Again, asking your doctor about the weight that you can lift is crucial.