Ileostomy: Before Your Surgery

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What is an ileostomy?

During an ileostomy (say "ill-ee-AW-stuh-mee"), the doctor attaches the end of the small intestine to an opening in the skin. This allows waste to leave the body through a new opening called a stoma. A pouch attaches to the skin around the stoma. Stools collect in the pouch. You must empty the pouch several times each day.

You may have this surgery if:

  • Your colon was removed because of a disease.
  • You have a mass in your lower colon that blocks your stool from passing.
  • You need a stoma until your colon can heal from treatment or surgery.

You may feel overwhelmed when you first get the ileostomy. But you will soon learn how to take care of it.

You will probably need to take off from work for a month or more, depending on your job. In time, you should be able to live a full life, including taking part in sports, sex, and other activities.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

 
  • Your doctor will tell you about any bowel prep to follow if needed, including if you should take laxatives, an enema, and antibiotics before surgery. Or you may need to go to the hospital the day before surgery to prepare your intestine.
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
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    Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
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    Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
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    Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital

  • Bring a picture ID.
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    The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no surgical site errors.
  •  
    You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  •  
    The surgery will take about 2 hours.
  •  
    You may have a tube in your nose that goes into your stomach to drain fluid and acid. This is to rest your intestines for a few days.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.