Ileostomy is a surgically created opening of the small intestine to the surface of the body. This may be a temporary or permanent solution of various diseases of the digestive tract, especially the colon. A similar method is known as colostomy, which is an opening of the large intestine.


Ileostomy is performed when it is necessary to remove a part or the whole colon (colorectal cancer, familial adenomatous polyposis, Turcot syndrome, complications of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease). Ileostomy may be a temporary solution of all situations that progress into the so-called toxic megacolon.


The ileostomy is created by a surgical procedure, which removes a portion or the entire colon and connects a loop of the small intestine to the skin cover of the abdomen. The stool is liquid and continuously leaks from the ileostomy. Therefore, special collecting bag must be used, which is stuck to the skin around the ileostomy. Special trained nurses help the patient to take care of the bags and to regularly change them.


The main disadvantage of ileostomy is the continuous flow of the stools (without voluntary control) and loss of the rectal function. In addition, the situation is for many people unbearable from the cosmetic point of view. That is why, when possible, the surgeons perform a conversion of the ileostomy to the ileo-anal pouch. This is a bag-like structure created from the loops of small intestine that are sewn together. The aim of this method is to mimic the function of the original rectum.


Ileostomy is an elegant temporary procedure that ensures defecation. However, when the situation is permanent, it is advisable to replace the ileostomy for the ileo-anal pouch (of course, only if possible).


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources