Before your operation ileostomy

“Learn as much as you can about your ileostomy”

I found it useful to do a bit of research before my operation. That way you know exactly what to ask and feel a bit more prepared for what’s to come. Here are some of the most common questions you might want to answer.

What is an ileostomy?More info
An ileostomy is a surgical opening constructed by bringing the end or loop of the small intestine (the ileum) out onto the surface of the skin to form a stoma (opening).
Why am I having an ileostomy? More info

Your bowel needs to be diverted away from its usual route. This could be for a number of different reasons and your surgeon or specialist stoma care nurse will explain why. An ileostomy can be permanent or temporary.

What is the operation like? More info

Whether you have an end or loop ileostomy, part of your small bowel will be brought to the surface of your abdomen to form a stoma. This will mean that your bowel motion and any wind will automatically pass from your body out of your stoma and into a stoma bag.

End ileostomy
This is usually performed when part of the large bowel (colon) is removed and the small bowel is brought to the surface of the abdomen to form a stoma.

Loop ileostomy
This is generally created to protect a surgical join in the colon. This is usually to allow the healing of the colon after part of it has been removed due to it being diseased or obstructed. The loop ileostomy is formed when a loop of the small bowel is brought to the surface of the abdomen to form a stoma.

Opposite top: End ileostomy
Opposite bottom: Loop ileostomy
Large intestine 1 Ileostomy 2 Rectum 3 Anus 4 Stoma 5

Where will my stoma be? More info

Before your operation, your specialist stoma care nurse will usually mark where your stoma should be, as a guide to the surgeon. An ileostomy is usually on the right-hand side of your abdomen, but in some circumstances it may be made on the left-hand side. It needs to be on part of your abdomen that is easily seen and not lost in folds of skin when you sit down or stand up.

What will it look like? More info

Your stoma will look a bit like the inside of your mouth and it will be soft to touch. It will be pinkish-red in colour and should be moist. The stoma may stand out by a few centimetres.

Will it be painful? More info
There is no sensation in the stoma and it is not painful. It is likely to be swollen at first and will take a few weeks to reduce in size. There will be small stitches around the edge of the stoma, which will usually dissolve.