An ileostomy is a surgical procedure to connect your small intestine to an opening in your abdomen called a stoma.
What is an ileostomy for?
An ileostomy is a type of stoma surgery to create an opening in your abdomen. It's usually performed on patients who have diseases of the colon (large intestine) such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, bowel cancer or bowel endometriosis.
Following your surgery, faeces will leave your body through the stoma, which is connected to a special collection bag that needs to be emptied and replaced regularly.
Is an ileostomy right for me?
Before your surgery, you'll meet with one of our specialist nurses to discuss how the stoma works and where it will be on your body. They'll also show you a variety of stoma bags and explain how they work.
There's no need to change your lifestyle if you have a stoma, and you won't need to wear any special clothing to hide your stoma bag. There are even smaller bags that can be worn discretely under swimwear.
Be sure to discuss any concerns you have with our stoma specialist. We understand this is something new and different, and we're here to help.
What happens during an ileostomy?
An ileostomy is performed under general anaesthetic. The length of your procedure and type of ileostomy will depend on your own medical condition. Be sure and discuss what method will be used with your surgeon.
Once your operation is over you'll be taken the recovery room where you'll wake up from the anaesthetic. You may have a tube in your wound to drain away any excess fluid. You'll have a stoma bag attached to your stoma.
Recovery from an ileostomy
It can take up to 8 weeks before you can resume normal activities.
Your stoma may feel swollen and sore, but this will ease in time. You'll be given medication to control any post-operative pain. Be sure to tell one of our healthcare team if you are uncomfortable.
You may need to stay in hospital for 7–10 days, depending on what method of surgery was used.
Once you begin to pass wind and stool, you can begin to take fluids by mouth. Your diet will gradually be increased over the next few days.
A specialist nurse will teach you all about managing your stoma.
Managing your recovery at home
Your abdomen may be sore, but it should settle over time. Make sure you follow the dietary and activity advice we give you, and attend any follow-up hospital visits.
Avoid strenuous activities for about 3 months. Discuss any return to work with your consultant.
Complications of an ileostomy
As with any surgical procedure, there's a small chance of complications, including:
Specific complications of an ileostomy/colostomy may include:
- leaking of the pouch
- infection in the pouch (pouchitis)
- obstruction or blockage in the intestine
- drainage from the anus.
The healthcare team will do their best to minimise any risks. Make sure you discuss any concerns you have about these complications with your consultant.
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