Having Bowel Surgery: Continent Ileostomy

This surgery is done to treat diseases of the digestive tract. It removes all of the large intestine. A stoma (passage out of the body) is created during surgery. When healed, waste collects within a pouch. It is then drained through a thin tube (catheter). A bandage covers the stoma when it’s not in use.

Preparing for surgery

Preparation may begin a few weeks before surgery and can include the following:

  • If you smoke, try to quit.

  • Tell your doctor about any medications (including aspirin, NSAIDs, and blood thinners), herbs, or supplements you take. Ask whether you should stop any of them before surgery.

  • If you will have a stoma, a specially trained healthcare provider called an enterostomal therapy (ET) nurse will meet with you. The two of you will decide on the stoma’s position on the abdominal wall. If instructed, stop eating solid food a day or two before surgery. Switch to a diet of clear liquids such as broth.

  • You may receive instructions for bowel prep, which helps ensure that your digestive tract is ready for surgery.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. This includes water, gum, and breath mints.

  • If your doctor tells you to take medication the morning of surgery, swallow it with only small sips of water.

Imageof the ileostomy showing the stoma for draining through a catheter and the internal pouch for collecting waste.

Image of the intestines with colon, rectum and anus highlighted to show what portion is removed.

The procedure

This surgery is done for people who do not wish to have an external pouch to collect waste. It may be done after a permanent ileostomy.

  • A segment of the small intestine is reshaped to form a pouch that holds waste inside the body.

  • The internal pouch is connected to an opening in the abdominal wall to let waste leave the body.

Risks and complications

Bowel surgery has certain risks and possible complications. Your health care provider can discuss them with you. They may include:

  • Infection

  • Injury to nearby organs

  • An anastomosis (pouch) that leaks

  • Blood clots

  • Risks related to anesthesia