What Is a Colectomy (Total or Ileostomy) and Who Needs It?
When a person’s colon becomes diseased or injured, it needs to be removed, or else it will lead to various healthcare complications such as diarrhea, bleeding, and severe illness. The healthcare process of removing the entire colon is known as a total colectomy. This process involves cutting out the colon and then joining the two remaining ends together with stitches or surgical attachments. However, the rectum may not be strong enough for such a procedure. So, to ensure the safe passage of stools, the small bowel is refashioned as a spout (ileostomy) from the right side of the stomach. Through this, fecal material drains into a bag stuck over the ileostomy.
A Total or Ileostomy Colectomy Procedure
As with all surgeries, there are certain healthcare risks involved with a colectomy, whether it is a total or an ileostomy procedure. The patient should thoroughly discuss any potential risks and complications with his or her healthcare team. The operation is performed under general anesthesia, and the patient should be ready to stay for at least two weeks in the hospital. Having an ileostomy colectomy means living with a pouch to empty the bowels. This situation can be difficult and uncomfortable. However, there are alternatives to hanging a pouch from the side of the stomach. An internal pouch can be fashioned out of the bowels. Another method involves fixing a pouch to the rectum so that the bowel empties almost naturally. However, these alternative methods are still under development and are not 100% safe. After a colectomy operation, patients must stick with light exercises and activities for 4-8 weeks. Normal activities can usually be performed after several months.