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Enterostomy

Pronounced: en-tuh-ROS-stuh-mee
En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition | Reasons for Procedure | Possible Complications | What to Expect | Call Your Doctor

Definition

This is surgery of the abdominal wall and intestines. An opening is made into the intestines to drain the contents out or put in a feeding tube.

The Intestines

The Intestines
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Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is done when a new exit for intestinal or fecal matter is needed. It may be needed when feces can no longer travel through the bowels and out the anus.

An enterostomy may also be needed when food can no longer enter the mouth or stomach normally. In this case, a feeding tube will be placed to help food enter the intestines.

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have enterostomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Skin irritation around the stoma from leaking digestive fluids
  • Diarrhea
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Hernia the at surgical site
  • Blockage or leakage of the tube, requiring replacement
  • Adverse reaction to the anesthesia

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Bleeding or clotting disorders
  • Active infection
  • Lung or heart disease

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.

What to Expect

  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin
    • Blood thinners
    • Anti-platelet medication
  • Your intestines will be cleaned with a special solution.
  • Your doctor will talk to you about the physical and emotional difficulties that you will face after this surgery.

General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV in your hand or arm.

There are different ways this surgery can be done. In one technique, an intestinal sac for collecting fecal waste is created inside of the abdomen. This sac will include a hole called a stoma in the abdominal wall. The stoma allows access to the sac so that it can be emptied through a tube. In another technique, the intestine is directly attached to the abdominal wall so that an external bag can be attached to collect fecal waste.

If the surgery is done to place a feeding tube, an incision will be made in your abdominal wall. The doctor will grasp a section of your small intestine. A small opening will be made. The tube will be placed through this opening and secured in place with sutures. The tube will then be brought through your abdominal wall. It will be secured with sutures.

These procedures may be done by an:

  • 30-45 minutes to insert the tube
  • 2-4 hours if sections of the intestine need to be removed

You will have soreness and tenderness after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medicine to help with the pain.

This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 2-4 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications occur.

  • You may need antibiotics. You may also need medicine for nausea and pain.
  • If you had an enterostomy to help fecal matter exit the bowels, you may have a pouch on the outside of your body. Waste material will be collected in it. You will receive instructions about diet and activity. During the first few days after surgery, you may be restricted from eating.
  • The staff will monitor your fluid intake and output to help you avoid dehydration.
  • You will wear boots or special socks to help prevent blood clots.
  • You will be asked to walk often after surgery.
  • You may be asked to use an incentive spirometer, to breathe deeply, and to cough frequently. This will improve lung function.
  • Your incision will be examined often for signs of infection.

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • You will need to practice good skin care of the area around the stoma. This will help to prevent infection.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • You will need to rest for 1-2 months.
  • You will be taught how to care for the stoma site and change the ostomy bag if you have one.
  • Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the stoma site
  • Pus or yellow/green discharge from the incision
  • Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery, or which persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
  • Pain, burning, urgency, frequency of urination, or blood in the urine
  • Blood in your stool, or black, tarry stools
  • Diarrhea
  • If you had a feeding tube placed, food cannot pass through the tube
  • The tube comes out or leaks
  • If you had an ostomy bag placed, and there is no stool collecting in the bag.

In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians

http://familydoctor.org

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

http://www.cag-acg.org

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation

http://www.cdhf.ca

References:

Gastroenterology urology devices. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfCFR/CFRSearch.cfm?FR=876.5980. Published April 1, 2010. Accessed May 23, 2013.

Shellito PC, Malt RA. Tube gastrostomy. Techniques and complications. Ann Surg. 1985;201:180-185.

Torosian MH, Rombeau JL. Feeding by tube enterostomy. Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1980;150:918-927.

6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.

Last reviewed May 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD; Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.