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Discharge Instructions for Ileostomy

During an ileostomy, a surgeon removes the colon (large intestine) and part of the last section of the ileum (small intestine) if they are diseased. The surgeon may disconnect parts of the intestine if they have been injured. Disconnection allows time for injured intestines to heal; then they are reconnected. During the ileostomy, the end of the ileum is brought through the abdominal wall. This makes an opening, called a stoma, for the contents of your intestines and mucus to pass out of the body. The following are general guidelines to follow after your ileostomy. Your doctor and ostomy nurse will go over any information that is specific to your condition.


  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds until your doctor says it is OK.

  • Don’t drive until after your first doctor's appointment following your surgery.

  • If you ride in a car for more than short trips, stop frequently to stretch your legs.

  • Ask your doctor about when you can expect to return to work. Most people are able to return to work within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

  • Increase your activity gradually. Take short walks on a level surface.

  • Don’t overexert yourself to the point of fatigue. If you become tired, rest.

Other Home Care

  • Take care of your stoma as directed. Your doctor and ostomy nurse discussed how to do this with you before you left the hospital.

  • Ask your doctor or ostomy nurse for a patient education sheet about ileostomy care before you leave the hospital. This will help remind you how to care for yourself.

  • Ask your doctor to prescribe medications to reduce the output from your ostomy if necessary.

  • Don’t be alarmed by bowel movements that contain mucus. This is common following this procedure.

  • Shower or bathe as instructed by your doctor.

  • Wash the incision site with soap and water and pat dry.

  • Check your incision every day for redness, drainage, swelling, or separation of the skin.

  • Don’t take any over-the-counter medication unless your doctor tells you to do so.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Excessive bleeding from your stoma

  • A change in your stoma's color or a stoma that looks like it's getting longer 

  • Bulging skin around your stoma

  • Blood in your stool

  • Fever above 101.5°F (38.6°C) or shaking chills

  • Redness, swelling, bleeding, or drainage from your incision

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Increased pain in the belly or around the stoma


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