Ileostomy - Q&A

What is an Ileostomy?

An ileostomy is a surgical procedure where a section of the ileum (small bowel) is brought to the surface of the abdomen to form a stoma. A stoma is the opening attached to the abdomen and looks like a pink, crinkly mound.

Ileostomy stomas tend to look like a spout that sits away from the body to help keep output away from the skin. A bag will then be  attached over the top of the stoma to collect your waste.

Ileostomy/Colostomy - What's the difference?

An ileostomy is formed by using a part of the ileum (small bowel) and a colostomy is formed using the colon (large bowel). An ileostomy is usually formed if either the large bowel has to be completely removed during surgery or the large bowel needs to rest completely to heal.

The output from an ileostomy tends to be very soft or liquid, this is due to the absorption of food and fluids happens mainly in the large bowel. This can mean that you may need to work harder to maintain optimum hydration and balance your vitamin and mineral levels. Your medical team will be able to advise you on what is suitable for you.

Two Main Types of Ileostomy

Loop Ileostomy

A loop ileostomy is when a ‘loop’ of your ileum is pulled through your abdomen and two holes are created close to each other, one hole to allow stool to pass through and the other will still be attached to the bowel and allow mucus to pass through.

Occasionally, you may find that stool can bypass the stoma and pass out through the rectum as normal as the two ends are still joined together. This isn’t something to be alarmed by. Loop ileostomies are generally created if your stoma is going to be temporary and you will eventually have a reversal. You can find out more about stoma reversals here.

End Ileostomy

An end ileostomy is when one end of your ileum is pulled through to your abdomen to form a stoma to allow stool to pass through. Depending on the surgery required you may also have your large bowel, rectum and anus removed if these have become diseased. End ileostomies are generally used if the stoma created is permanent.

Make Sure You Get The Right Bags For You

The first few weeks/months with an ileostomy can be overwhelming and confusing as you can feel that there is so much to learn from how to look after that new little crinkly, pink mound to understanding all the products that are available to you.

The important thing to remember is that there is a choice of bags and products for you and it may be worth trying out different bags so that you find one that is suited to you. Your stoma home delivery supplier will be able to advise you on what products they may think suit you.

Again, you are able to choose a home delivery service, you don’t have to settle for the one that you have been set up with at the hospital. You can find out who the best home delivery services are here.

Please note: The information throughout these pages should be used as a guide only. Please consult your GP or medical professional for further information about your condition.

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