What is an ileostomy?
An ileostomy is a stoma created from the small bowel, also called the ileum (1). The surgeon will bring the bowel through a small incision to the surface of the abdomen (2) where it will be sutured to the skin. An ileostomy is usually situated on the right hand side of the body and may be temporary or permanent.
The most common diseases resulting in an ileostomy are:
- Ulcerative colitis: - this causes inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the rectum and large bowel, which leads to symptoms including diarrhoea with blood and mucus, cramping pain, fatigue, weight loss and anaemia
- Crohn's disease: - this is an inflammatory bowel disease, which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal system and can cause symptoms including pain, diarrhoea with blood and mucus, fatigue, mouth ulcers, weight loss and anaemia
- 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, which may become cancerous if left untreated
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 loose because it is expelled before reaching the colon. Output may vary between a porridge and watery consistency which may also differ throughout the day, depending on how much fluid and food is consumed. The average output of an ileostomy is 500 -700 mls per day therefore a drainable stoma bag will be worn which will need emptying several times per day. The bag will be changed every few days according to personal preference.
Types of ileostomy
There are two types of ileostomy - an end or a loop. In an end ileostomy, the colon and rectum may be removed or need to be rested to heal and the end of the ileum is bought out through the stoma. In a loop ileostomy, a loop of the small bowel is bought out through the abdomen and cut before being sutured down.