A colostomy and an ileostomy are both surgical procedures in which a surgeon creates an opening in the skin as a way for waste products to leave the intestines. While the colostomies and ileostomies may seem similar at first glance, they are really quite different.
Colostomies and ileostomies are types of ostomies. An ostomy is any procedure in which the surgeon brings part of an internal organ through an opening in the skin so that waste products can leave the body. A bag worn on the outside of the body collects the waste products.
Doctors perform colostomies and ileostomies for conditions affecting the digestive tract. Specifically, surgeons perform colostomies and ileostomies to treat injuries and diseases that affect the large and small intestines. Cancer is just one reason a surgeon might perform a colostomy or an ileostomy; there are many other reasons doctors would perform these procedures.
Colostomies and ileostomies may be permanent. They may also be a temporary measure to give the intestine a chance to heal from a procedure or a condition. In other words, surgeons can reverse colostomies and ileostomies in some cases.
Colostomy and ileostomy can be the start of a new life for people with serious digestive issues. Many patients feel better after undergoing the procedure and can return to most of the activities they have enjoyed in the past.
While there are many similarities between colostomies and ileostomies, the two procedures are different.
An ileostomy is a type of ostomy where the doctor brings part of the small intestine, also known as the ileum, to the surface. An ileostomy may be appropriate for patients with colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or Familial Polyposis (FAP).
The ileostomy bag is usually located on the lower right side of the patient’s stomach. The waste products leave the body in liquid form. The patient does not have any control over the activity of the ostomy and must, therefore, wear an ostomy bag at all times. The individual must empty the bag five to eight times each day.
A colostomy is formed from the large intestine, which is the part of the digestive tract that leads to the outside of the body. Surgeons perform colostomies on patients who have colon cancer, diverticulitis, bowel obstruction, paralysis, intestinal injury or birth defects.
There are two main types of colostomies and each has a different placement. A transverse colostomy is on the upper part of the patient’s stomach and a descending/sigmoid colostomy is on the lower left. The stool leaves the body in a semi-solid form, so the patient has some control and may wear an ostomy cap rather than wearing an ostomy bag.
Both colostomies and ileostomies can save lives in some cases and improve the quality of life in other circumstances. For more information about ostomies, speak with a surgeon.