An ileostomy is a procedure that you might need if you have colon cancer or colitis. It is removal of part of the intestine and creation of a hole to let waste escape. In the ileoanal J-pouch or pull-through, the small intestine serves the former function of the large intestine. The procedure can be successful, but it can result in a failed J-pouch.
Why Patients May Opt for a J-Pouch
Some of the most common concerns about getting an ileostomy are being tied to a bag and losing all control about when waste exits from the body. A J-pouch is an operation that helps to relieve these worries. With a J-pouch, you do not need to carry a bag around because the small intestine has been fashioned into a pouch that is able to hold some waste.
In addition, you retain some control over when waste leaves the body. Unlike a Brooke ileostomy, which involves constant drainage, and a BCIR or Kock pouch, which requires a catheter overnight to allow for constant drainage, the J-pouch lets you delay a trip to the bathroom for up to an hour after you feel the desire to go. This can be very enticing when thinking about activities such as long car trips and meetings at work.
When a J-Pouch May Fail
Unfortunately, a J-pouch has a high risk of failure, especially compared to the Brooke ileostomy. You may suspect that your J-pouch has failed if you have more than the usual 4 to 7 stools each day, you begin to experience incontinence, or you have pain in the area. At that time, contact your physician to look into other options.
Options for the Future
If necessary, you may be able to convert your failed J-pouch into a BCIR. This lets you continue to live without needing to carry an ostomy bag everywhere with you. In some cases, after removing a J-pouch, you can undergo surgery to reverse the ileostomy and go for another solution.
Healthy Diet and Lifestyle to Support an Ileostomy
Whichever kind of ileostomy you are considering or already have, you can make your life with it easier by following a good diet. The first few weeks after your ileostomy, limit roughage, or dietary fiber, which is in foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Once your surgery area has healed and is a little stronger, you should be able to tolerate a more balanced and nutritious diet which includes these foods. Drink plenty of fluids, too, to keep food from getting stuck. You should not have many restrictions on lifestyle, as long as you avoid contact sports and heavy lifting.