What is an ileostomy?
An ileostomy is a surgical procedure which usually involves removing the whole of the large intestine or colon (1) and sometimes the rectum (4). The end of the remaining small intestine or ileum (2) is then cut and brought to the surface of the abdomen to form a stoma (3) which is usually situated on the right hand side of the body. The ileostomy may be temporary or permanent.
The most common diseases resulting in an ileostomy are:
- Ulcerative colitis: - this leads to inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the large bowel, which causes diarrhoea with blood and mucus
- Crohn's disease: - this is an inflammatory bowel disease, which affects any part of the gastrointestinal system which can cause pain and diarrhoea with blood and mucus
- Cancerous growths affecting the colon
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP): - this is an inherited condition, which affects the colon and rectum. People with FAP develop polyps (adenomas) inside the large bowel. An adenoma may become cancerous
Waste from an ileostomy
The function of the colon is to absorb water and salt which results in well formed faeces. The waste from an ileostomy is quite fluid because the colon is removed, and it varies between a porridge and watery consistency which may alter throughout the day depending on how much fluid and food is consumed. The output, which cannot be regulated, has an average volume of 500 -700 mls/24hrs. A drainable stoma bag will be worn which will need emptying several times per day and the bag will be changed every 1-3 days according to personal preference.
There are two types of ileostomy - an end ileostomy and a loop ileostomy. In an end ileostomy, the colon and rectum are removed and the end of the ileum is bought out through the stoma. In a loop ileostomy, a loop of the small intestine is bought out through the stoma, but the colon and rectum are not removed.