Advances in medical sciences have helped improve the lives of countless people. Many diseases once thought incurable are now treatable through multiple methods. However, some treatment solutions end up affecting lifestyles. They can even result in emotional and physical stress. One of such treatment solutions is an ileostomy.
What is an ileostomy?
An ileostomy refers to a bowel diversion resulting in the small intestine opening in the outside of the body through the abdominal wall. It essentially bypasses the colon and rectum, both of which are either removed or rested. This opening or stoma on the abdomen allows a patient to expel bodily wastes.
An ileostomy is a solution to various gastrointestinal disorders. After the creation of a stoma, you have to wear an ostomy pouch over it to manage your waste evacuations.
Reasons to have an ileostomy
You may need an ileostomy if your colon and rectum fail to perform their usual functions. The purpose of the colon is to move wastes towards the rectum and anus. It absorbs moisture from waste materials while their move. We feel the urge to move our bowels when waste materials reach the rectum.
However, several health disorders can result in the colon and rectum losing their ability to perform. Not only are these disorders painful, but they can elevate the risk of further life-threatening complications or conditions. Here are the common reasons why you may need an ileostomy.
- Inflammatory bowel disease: Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term used for two health conditions, namely ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both these conditions are different, but they result in diarrhea, bleeding, and abdominal pain. Since these diseases are untreatable, the best way to get them uprooted is to undergo ileostomy surgery, which removes the infected areas of the bowel.
- Colorectal cancer: Any cancer developing in the colon and rectum is called colorectal cancer or CRC. The growth of cancerous cells can damage the colon permanently. In such a scenario, the damaged part of the colon must be removed before cancer spreads. The removal of the cancer-infected area of the colon often accompanies the surgical creation of the ileostomy.
- Trauma: A traumatic accident can cause enough damage to the colon, leading to the patient requiring an ileostomy.
You will undergo ileostomy surgery under the influence of anesthesia. During surgery, the surgeon will make a large incision or several small incisions on your belly. The procedure involving one large incision is open surgery, while the one involving several small incisions is laparoscopic surgery. He will disconnect the ileum from the colon and bring the end of the ileum through a small cut in the belly to create a stoma. The diseased part of the bowel is either removed or rested.
The stoma is responsible to pass out stools. An ileostomy can be an end ileostomy or loop ileostomy. A loop ileostomy is essentially temporary. It brings out a loop of the bowel through the cut in the belly. The stoma is created by creating an incision on the top of the loop. On the other hand, the end ileostomy involves total disconnection of the inactive part of the bowel.
Living with an ileostomy
Living with an ileostomy may seem daunting at first, but you will get used to it over time. The most crucial part of ileostomy care is ensuring the correct use of the ostomy pouch. You have to make sure that it adheres to your peristomal skin tightly. You can discuss all these aspects with your ostomy care nurse or healthcare provider.