After undergoing an ileostomy procedure, your body will eliminate waste differently and here we’ll explain what type of waste output (effluent) you can expect. An ileostomy is performed when the colon and rectum have been removed or are not functioning properly, so waste will no longer pass through them, but will instead be collected in an ileostomy pouch or bag.
When you have a standard or conventional ileostomy surgery, the end of your small intestine (the ileum) is attached to your abdominal wall and a stoma (surgically created opening) is created in your lower abdominal area, essentially bypassing your colon (large intestine) and rectum. After surgery, your waste output will empty into a collection bag, which is attached to the stoma on the outside of the body. When the pouch is full (or half full, depending upon your surgeon’s instructions), you must dispose of it and replace it with a new collection bag.
If you have a J-pouch type of ileostomy, the waste output is instead stored inside the body, in an ileoanal pouch (collection reservoir) created from the ileum (end of the small intestine) itself, and surgically attached to the anal canal. Waste is then evacuated through the anus. You may have from 4 to 8 bowel movements per day, although it will be much more often immediately after surgery when the waste will be thinner and more liquid. Dependent upon the specifics of your diet, a normal waste output will be a pasty consistency.
If you have the BCIR procedure, the Barnett Continent Intestinal Reservoir, the effluent is stored in an internal reservoir, inside your abdomen, that you can empty manually when you want to or need to, by attaching a catheter. The BCIR method helps avoid issues, like leaking or odors, that can occur with other types of ileostomy surgery. This procedure also gives you more control over when you drain the waste from your internal collection bag. The increased control can help you participate more easily in physical exercise or activity.
Although each patient is different, an output of 300 to 1500 ml per day can be normal. You should establish what is normal for you with guidance from your ileostomy specialist. After any type of ileostomy, adjusting your diet (in consultation with the doctor) can help you maintain the desired consistency and amount of waste you produce. Small meals and plenty of fluids throughout the day are typically recommended. If you notice blood in your waste, have pain in the abdomen or nausea/vomiting–or if the amount and consistency of your waste change for no obvious reason–contact your surgeon for assistance.
Dr. Don Schiller specializes in ileostomy surgery, providing advanced surgical options tailored to each patient’s specific needs. Contact the ileostomy expert in Los Angeles at 323-472-9931.