An ileostomy is a medical procedure that involves bringing the ileum to an opening in the abdominal wall, creating a stoma. You may need an ileostomy if your large intestine is no longer able to process and eject waste safely. The stoma allows waste to leave your body. The following conditions can cause you to need an ileostomy if they progress.
• Chrohn’s disease.
• Ulcerative colitis.
• Colorectal cancer.
• Hirschsprung’s disease.
• Familial adenomatous polyposis.
If you have been told that you need an ileostomy, your first reaction may be to wonder, “What is an ileostomy?” Knowing how the procedure works and what to expect after the surgery can help you gain confidence and prepare yourself.
There are three main types of ileostomies.
• Brooke ileostomy. Also known as a conventional ileostomy, this procedure leaves the patient needing a traditional ileostomy pouch or bag. The bag is external, and must be worn constantly.
• BCIR or Barnett Continent Intestinal Reservoir. This procedure uses the patient’s small intestine to create a reservoir for waste collection and a nipple valve to control elimination. Waste can be eliminated into the toilet three to five times a day.
• Ileoanal J-pouch. This procedure is also called IPAA or pull-through. The goal is to postpone the need to have a bowel movement for an hour after the first urge, but incontinence and other complications are fairly common.
Life after an ileostomy can be full and rewarding. You can do most activities, including running and swimming, as long as you avoid contact sports. Going back to work is an option for many ileostomy patients, and nobody needs to know about your condition unless you tell them. You can also travel and wear the clothes you want. The trick to living the life you want is to talk to your doctor about strategies for managing your condition under different circumstances. Support groups can also help.
Your doctor may give you permission to eat whatever you like after an ileostomy, but you may find that certain foods bother you or make you feel better. For that reason, you may want to make some changes to your diet after an ileostomy. These tips can help you stay comfortable.
• If you have gas, try limiting your consumption of beans, cabbage, broccoli, onions, and carbonated drinks.
• Limit peels and skins from fruits and vegetables, nuts, popcorn, and seeds if you have incomplete digestion.
• Limit fried, sugary, and spicy foods, as well as prune juice, if you have watery stools.
• If your stools are too thick, limit apples and starchy foods such as potatoes, bananas, pasta, and rice.