Every year, thousands of men and women have their large intestine and rectum removed as a result of serious bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and familial adenomatous polyposis. And for many of those people, wearing an external colostomy bag is part of their day-to-day reality. While external bags perform an important “job” by collecting waste that can no longer be eliminated through the rectum, they also pose some significant disadvantages to those who wear them, including the continual worry over potential leakage of gas and odors, as well as restrictions on the type of clothing that can be worn and the activities these patients can enjoy. The result: High levels of dissatisfaction and a markedly reduced quality of life for many patients. Fortunately, there are alternatives to the external colostomy bag. Of these new techniques, the Kock pouch, or K-pouch, is one of the most widely used surgical techniques. Here’s what you should know.
The K-pouch derives its name from its “creator,” Nils Kock, who first performed the surgery in the late 1960s. During the procedure, the surgeon creates a small "internal: pouch inside the patient’s abdomen using a section of the small intestine. The pouch is attached to the abdominal wall and accessed through a valve that extends through the abdominal wall and into the pouch interior. The valve enables the pouch to be discreetly emptied and also prevents leakage of waste and gas.
The K-pouch is sometimes referred to as a continent ileostomy because waste remains inside the body rather than being contained in an external colostomy bag. That means patients who have a K-pouch can wear normal clothing and participate in a far wider range of activities than men and women who have external colostomy bags. In fact, Stanford Medicine found that people who have K-pouch surgery report a significant improvement in body image, confidence levels and overall quality of life compared to the experience of using a colostomy bag.
The abdominal opening that contains the valve is called a stoma, and it contains no nerve endings, which means there’s no risk of discomfort if you touch it or if clothing rubs against it. Once the stoma is created, you’ll need to cover it with a small bandage to keep it protected, and you can wash the area normally. In rare instances, the valve may shift position; in those cases, it can be repositioned by the surgeon.
K-pouch surgery can be a great option for many patients who require an ileostomy, and there are other options as well. As a leading ileostomy surgeon in Los Angeles, Dr. Don Schiller is skilled in helping patients understand all their surgical options to ensure they receive the best possible care and achieve optimal results based on their specific needs. To learn more about the K-pouch and other ileostomy techniques that can help you enjoy a better quality of life, call Dr. Schiller at 323-472-9931 to schedule a consultation and evaluation today.