An ileostomy is a surgical procedure to create an opening in the abdomen. It allows stools to leave the body without entering the colon. An ileostomy can be permanent or temporary, depending on the severity of the disease and other factors.
The two very common reasons why a surgeon might opt to give you an ileostomy include colorectal cancer and abdominal trauma. The purpose of an ileostomy is to mitigate the risk of bowel leakage into the abdominal cavity.
Most ileostomies created are temporary, meaning that those patients are eligible to undergo reversal surgery. This article discusses the ileostomy reversal in more detail.
Surgery for ileostomy reversal usually takes 40 minutes to complete. This procedure may involve the following steps.
- The surgeon will cut the abdominal skin to gain access to the ostomy and abdominal wall fascia, which is connective tissue.
- He will then identify the area of the intestine for reconnection.
- He will connect two parts of the intestine. The medical term used for this connection is anastomosis.
- They will close the skin incision and fascia in the final step.
The way initial surgery was performed influence the approach used in reversal surgery.
Your surgeon will discuss the expected approach with you before surgery. He will also provide valuable information regarding recovery and risks of complications. That will be to help you set the right expectations.
Timing of an ileostomy reversal
Several factors affect the timing of an ileostomy reversal. Those factors include the following.
- The way a person recovered from the impact of ileostomy surgery
- The patient’s need for chemotherapy or radiation after surgery
- Stage of cancer
- Preferences of the patient and surgeon
A 2021 study suggests that an early reversal may take place 90 days after surgery. The authors of this study also noted that most planned ileostomy reversal surgeries occurred 3-6 months after ileostomy surgery. An occurrence of complications might, however, delay the reversal.
According to a 2015 study, patients having a gap of more than 6 months between the initial surgery and reversal surgery had increased complication rates.
Here is a list of complications that may occur after ileostomy reversal.
- Hernia: This condition refers to the protraction of the bowel through abdominal muscles. It usually happens at the site of surgery. This complication usually occurs within two years of reversal surgery.
- Anastomotic leak: This complication occurs in 1 in 250 patients. This problem refers to a leak happening at the bowel reconnection site. Surgical intervention may be required to fix this complication.
- Abdominal collection: This rare complication refers to infectious fluids collecting inside the abdomen. It can result in pain, bloating, high fever, and changes in bowel movements.
How to deal with complications
First off, you have to contact your doctor if you notice any of the complications mentioned above. Remember to keep an eye on symptoms such as obstructions, leaks, and infections. All these complications tend to change the quality of life, so you should take note when feeling odd.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions during the recovery phase. Your doctor will give you a complete roadmap for what to eat and what physical activities to engage in.