Although the exit point of stool changes in colostomy and ileostomy, the way it is done is what makes these surgical procedures different.
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Colostomy and ileostomy provide an alternate route for intestinal contents to move out of the body.
Both colostomy and ileostomy are bowel diversion surgeries that change the path of stool elimination. Yet, there is a major difference as the part of the intestine used to re-route the passage of stool in each procedure is not the same.
The small and the large intestine are an integral part of the digestive system. The small intestine absorbs nutrition from food, while the large intestine provides a passage to get rid of stools (fecal matter). Any issues with the large intestine may require diversion of passage of stool, which is done using ileostomy and colostomy. In either case, a part of the small or large intestine is removed permanently or made inactive temporarily so that it heals completely.
In colostomy, a part of the colon (large intestine) is surgically cut and attached to the hole constructed through the abdominal wall. This creates a new route through the abdominal wall for the stools to move out of the body. This new opening for defecation, referred to as the stoma, is formed by stitching the part of the colon to the newly made cavity through the abdominal wall. This surgically-made artificial anus is the new way to get rid of stools.
A colostomy is necessary after a colectomy; a procedure that involves removing a portion of the colon. The remaining part of the colon is then surgically linked to the opening in the abdominal wall.
Diverticulitis of the colon, severe injury to the colon or rectum, and severe obstruction of the colon are some of the most common reasons why a colostomy will be required. People with bowel cancer that involves rectal removal may require reestablishing a new passage for stool elimination, which is done using colostomy.
In ileostomy, the part of the small intestine, namely the ileum, is surgically cut and stitched to a hole created through the abdominal wall. Although the reasons of ileostomy may vary, it is often performed due to the poor functioning of the large intestine (colon). Any issues with other sections of the small intestine such as jejunum and duodenum may also require changing the passage of stools using ileostomy.
A person diagnosed with advanced stage bowel cancer, severe case of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or familial polyposis that affect the colon, may be treated with ileostomy. In ileostomy, a portion or the entire large intestine will be removed from the body to make a new opening for stool evacuation.
The colon is the site where soft, bulky stools are formed. However, in the absence of major part of the colon, the fecal matter produced after ileostomy and colostomy has a liquid-like appearance. All in all, the stool consistency will depend on how much part of the colon is removed.
In both colostomy and ileostomy, the stoma is made on the left or right side of the abdomen. The new intestinal opening for stool removal (artificial anus) is covered with an external bag to collect solid waste. Usually, in most cases, patients prefer to use a new bag everyday but some prefer to change it after every 3 days. Also, the attached stoma bag needs to be cleaned many times during the day.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.