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Ileostomy and colostomy

Ileostomy and colostomy are procedures that may be recommended after bowel surgery, for example for inflammatory bowel disease or for bowel cancer.

An ileostomy operation diverts the small intestine, or small bowel, out through an opening in the abdomen.

A colostomy is a similar procedure but diverts a section of the large intestine, or colon, out through an opening in the abdomen.

In both cases the opening in the abdomen, called a stoma, is connected to a special bag to collect body waste. Poo leaving through an ileostomy is usually quite liquid, whereas poo leaving through a colostomy is more solid.

Stomas can be permanent or temporary, depending on whether the anus and rectum have been removed or not, and on the underlying reasons for the surgery.

Life with a stoma bag

Before leaving hospital, special instructions will be given on managing the tube leaving the body, keeping it clean and emptying the collection bag. This training is usually given by a stoma care nurse.

It will usually take a number of attempts to get used to the stoma as well as learning about everything that needs to be close at hand when changing the bag and cleaning the stoma.

The nurse will also explain the different types of stoma bags that can be used.

It may help to have a relative or friend with you for the session with the stoma nurse in case you need help at home.

Diet with ileostomy and colostomy

After a colostomy, it is important to chew food as much as possible before swallowing to make it easier to digest. Other than this, there are no general dietary dos and don'ts. Different people will find different foods and drink affect them in different ways after a colostomy – including foods that make the poo more loose or thicker, those that create more smells, and those that produce more wind.

After an ileostomy, poo will be more liquid. Again, chewing is important. Some foods swallowed whole could cause a blockage, including sweetcorn and nuts.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 18, 2016

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