How Important is Ostomy Surgery for Crohn’s Disease and IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)?


An ostomy is a surgical process created to aid individuals in passing feces out of the body. This is also carried out when a severe medical condition affects the lower intestines making it impossible to defecate.

The surgical process involves the extraction of the colon, irrespective of whether it has become entirely diseased or only concentrated in a particular area. As the function of the large colon is a storage area for solid waste while water is absorbed into the body if it is removed the waste becomes more liquid. This is then eliminated through the anus or an opening that is formed on the side of the abdomen called an ostomy. The exact title depends on the form of reconstruction of the waste system during surgery.

So do a few occasions of flare-ups really constitute a reason for a sufferer to begin considering ostomy surgery? It is usually only offered as an alternative for patients who have experienced regular, long-term major relapses with short interludes of remission, or for those who suffer constant symptoms. There are other circumstances which can necessitate the surgery. These include when the bowel perforates, becomes toxic, becomes extremely distended, and when the patient suffers from severe diarrhea and bleeding when a course of intravenous steroids has been administered but without effect.

There are medical conditions that use ostomy as an essential element of treatment and recovery. These conditions are Crohn’s disease, IBD, colon cancer, rectal cancer, bowel obstructions, diverticulosis complications, and inborn malformations. In each case, an ostomy is the most viable and most reliable treatment. In some cases, an ostomy is not permanent and may be undone later.

When a doctor requires an ostomy, the first reaction of a patient may be negative. Perhaps, an ostomy is the most misunderstood and most feared surgical process. After the operation, time is needed to not only heal but also to mentally adapt to the changes. The patient may realize that life does not have to be that different after all.

There are many types of ostomy. Two of the most common are colostomy and ileostomy. A colostomy means that the opening is made from the colon. If the opening is made on the left colon, just a surgical pad is needed to cover the opening. If it is in the right colon, an appliance or sac is used.

An ileostomy indicates that the ileum, which is the end portion of the small intestine, is brought to the abdominal surface. When the waste material gets to the ileum, it is in liquid form and a device is necessary to catch it. One type of ileostomy is known as the continent ileostomy or Koch’s pouch that does not need a device.

For the colostomy on the right portion of the colon and ileostomy, a small odor-free bag is attached to the body. It is undetectable through clothes.

There are few, if any, changes to the lifestyle of an individual who has undergone ostomy surgery. Bathing in a shower or a tub is much the same with or without the appliance. The same types of clothes can be worn. The minimal changes would be larger pantyhoses or girdles for women or larger athletic supporters for active men. Participation in sports is still an option. Even sexual activity is not affected. Travel may require extra planning.

Several people have undergone this procedure. Chances are you’ve already mingled with somebody who has but just didn’t know it.