An ileostomy refers to a small bowel diversion that evacuates waste materials through an opening in the abdomen. This opening in the abdomen is known as a stoma. The surgical procedure to create this bowel diversion generally involves the removal or resting of the entire colon.
An ileostomy is generally on the right-hand side of the body, but it can be on the left side in specific circumstances.
Different types of an ileostomy
An ileostomy can be either an end ileostomy or loop ileostomy.
An end ileostomy is when the surgeon disconnects the small bowel from the colon and pulls the end of the small bowel out through a cut in the belly to create a stoma. An end ileostomy can be permanent or temporary, depending on why had to undergo ileostomy surgery. With an end ileostomy, your colon will have to remain separated for at least a few months if there is a chance of reversal. In many cases, an end ileostomy is permanent, which means that you are going to have to manage an ostomy bag for the rest of your life.
You will need a loop ileostomy when the surgeon realizes the need to divert the passage of fecal wastes away from a bowel obstruction. The surgeon will not disconnect the small bowel completely. He will rather pull a loop of the ileum out through a cut in the abdomen and make an incision on the top of the loop. It will create two openings: one that connects to the active part of the bowel, and the other one that connects to the rectum. This ileostomy is always temporary, as the surgeon creates it to ‘rest’ the diseased part of the bowel. The surgeon will reconnect that both ends of the bowel once the diseased part recovers.
Reasons you may need an ileostomy
There can be various reasons why you may need an ileostomy. Some of those reasons are as follows.
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Fecal incontinence
- Radiation damage
- Other abnormalities
How does an ileostomy look?
The stoma of an ileostomy protrudes from the surface of the abdomen. It may appear like a red or pink bud, which is moist. It is much like the inside of the mouth.
A stoma doesn’t have any nerve endings, meaning that you are not going to feel anything on it. It, however, has lots of blood vessels that can cause the stoma to bleed easily when you rub it. So, you are going to have to be careful while cleaning it.
The stoma is generally swollen after surgery because it is the part of the bowel that the surgeon has to cut. It generally takes 6-8 weeks for the swelling to subside.
Initially, there will be stitches around the stoma after surgery. These stitches dissolve over time, and the stoma becomes a part of the abdominal skin.
The skin around the stoma holds significant importance in the ostomy care regimen because it is the surface that has to make a seal with the ostomy pouching system you use.