Ileostomy, closure of loop

What is a loop ileostomy? 

A loop ileostomy was made at your original operation to allow the joined ends of your bowel a chance to heal properly. A loop ileostomy is a type of stoma (opening of the bowel onto the skin) and was made with two ends of your small bowel (ileum) was expected that this would only be temporary and that the bowel ends would be put back together.

Your surgeon is now satisfied that the join in the large bowel has healed well enough and has recommended having the ileostomy reversed. Your bowels will then open in the usual way.

What are the benefits of a loop ileostomy?

Surgery will allow you to open your bowels in the normal way and you will no longer have a stoma bag.

What happens during a ileostomy? 

You may be given an enema to clean out your large bowel. This will make it easier to move faeces through the large bowel after the operation.

You will be asked to drink some fluids that are high in carbohydrates to give you energy for the operation.  The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 45 minutes.

Your surgeon will make a cut in the skin around the ileostomy. They will free up the loops of small bowel used to make the ileostomy. Your surgeon will then join the two ends back together and place the loops back inside the abdominal cavity. At the end of the operation, they will close the cut. Your surgeon will not usually need to cut through your old scar and this operation is usually much smaller than your previous operation.

For more information, and if you have any queries about the procedure, speak to your consultant.

Continue taking your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.

The following lifestyle changes can help make the procedure a success:

  • Giving up smoking
  • Eating healthily. If overweight, you have a greater chance of developing complications
  • Exercising regularly. Your GP can recommend exercises.

Possible complications of this operation:

  • Pain, which happens with every operation
  • Bleeding after surgery. This is usually minor
  • Infection in the surgical wound, which may need treatment with antibiotics or further surgery
  • Chest infection
  • Unsightly scarring of the skin
  • Developing a hernia in the scar caused by the deep muscle layers failing to heal. If this causes problems, you may need further surgery
  • Anastomotic leak. This is a serious complication that may happen if the join (anastomosis) between the ends of the bowel fails to heal, leaving a hole. Bowel contents leak into the abdomen, leading to pain and serious illness. This often needs another operation
  • Bowel obstruction, caused by the join swelling or adhesions (scar tissue) inside the abdomen. This usually settles after a few days
  • Diarrhoea, which is quite common, but should improve with time.

This is not a definitive list and symptoms will vary with each patient. Please ask your consultant for more information.

What does the recovery involve? 

Over the next few days you will gradually be allowed to drink and then eat normally. Sometimes the join becomes swollen and does not allow fluid to pass. Your tummy will be bloated for a couple of days and you may feel sick.

You should be able to go home three to five days after the operation. However, your doctor may recommend that you stay a little longer. Remember, you won’t be able to drive after the operation. Once at home, you should feel strong enough to return to normal activities within a few weeks. Regular exercise should help your recovery – ask your GP for advice.

For further information, speak to your consultant.

How to pay for your procedure 

Closure of loop ileostomy costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.

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