Total surprise is sometimes the reaction of a patient when a physician recommends an ileostomy. While many people are aware that this procedure is major surgery, few are familiar with the reasons why colorectal surgeons perform it or with any surgical alternatives available.
They are procedures in which a colorectal surgeon directs the ileum—the end of the small bowel—through an opening in the abdomen called a stoma. This permits waste to exit the body through a bag or appliance affixed to the patient’s skin using adhesive products, according to BCIRhistory.com.
Ileostomies are required after removal of the entire colon (large intestine), called a colectomy. The type of ostomy recommended depends in part on whether the surgeon also removes the rectum in a proctocolectomy. In some cases, ileostomies are temporary measures used to rest an inflamed or injured colon.
Surgeons perform ileostomies for a wide variety of reasons, NHS Choices reports:
With removal of the colon and/or rectum, patients have several options when it comes to permanent or temporary ileostomies, MedlinePlus reports:
For Crohn’s patients whose colons must be removed, permanent ileostomies are the only alternative, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. This is because they face such high risks for complications like relapses, abscesses, fistulas, and strictures that could interfere with the proper functioning of an internal pouch.