Ileostomy surgery is a type of medical procedure to create an ileostomy, an opening in the abdominal wall through which the lowest part of the intestine passes. Doctors perform ileostomy surgery to treat a variety of diseases and medical problems, including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, familial polyposis, and cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
An ileostomy is a type of ostomy, which is an artificial opening in the abdominal wall that a surgeon creates to allow the elimination of waste from the body. The surgeon first creates the opening, removes the section of diseased intestine or other body tissue, then pulls the healthy end of the organ through the small opening to allow urine or stool to leave the body. More than 750,000 now live with an ostomy, according to the United Ostomy Association of America, and another 130,000 people undergo the lifesaving operation each year.
There are several types of ostomies, named for the organ drawn through the artificial opening. A surgeon performs a colostomy when he pulls the colon through the stoma to divert the flow of fecal material, for example, or a urostomy when he creates a new conduit for urine to flow to the outside world. An ileostomy describes a procedure when the surgeon brings the ileum, which is the last section of the small intestine, through the stoma for the elimination of fecal matter.
Ileostomy surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon can place the ileostomy in one of several different sites on the patient’s abdomen, depending on the location of diseased intestine and the patient’s personal needs. The surgeon makes an incision measuring about 8 inches down the midline of the patient’s abdomen, through the abdominal skin, muscle and subcutaneous tissues. The physician then removes either the colon alone or the colon and rectum together. The surgeon then stitches the anal canal closed.
Ileostomy is temporary for some people and permanent for others. There are two basic types of permanent ileostomy: conventional and continent. The conventional ileostomy, known as a Brooke ileostomy, requires the patient wear a plastic bag to collect fecal waste as it exits the body; the patient has no control over when this elimination occurs. A continent ileostomy, also called a Kock ileostomy, allows the patient to control the exit of waste from the stoma. These patients insert a flexible catheter tube to remove fecal waste.
Ileostomy surgery can be the start of a new, healthier life for those who suffer from serious intestinal disorders. Most patients resume most of the activities they enjoyed before undergoing the procedure. If you have severe bowel disease, talk with your surgeon to find out if ileostomy surgery can improve the quality of your life.