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How do I Care for an Ileostomy Closure?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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There are various things you should know about caring for your ileostomy closure. The area will likely be swollen for several days after the initial operation, and infection may be prone to occur. You should be sure to drain the pouch regularly during the first few days as directed by your doctor. The area where the stoma was put in place should be kept as clean and dry as possible to prevent bacteria from entering the area.

An ileostomy is a procedure in which the lower portion of the small intestine is disconnected from the large intestine. The large intestine and rectum are then generally removed due to disease or injury. Once this is done, the portion of the small intestine is constructed into a small pouch used to hold feces in place of the colon. This pouch will eventually be connected to the anus for normal bowel movements or to a stoma in the abdomen where is can be drained.

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When an opening, or stoma, in the abdomen is used, the area must be properly cared for to prevent infection. A cap is generally put in place at the ileostomy closure to prevent leakage of waste matter. The area surrounding this cap should be cleaned several times a day in the beginning until the area is fully healed from the surgery. After healing has taken place, occasional cleaning with a disinfecting agent may be needed. Lotions, balms, or powders may also be beneficial at preventing itching or irritation.

To prevent leakage or injury to ileostomy closure site, the pouch must be drained continuously for the first several weeks. Eventually the pouch will stretch and become able to hold more fecal matter at a time, so draining can occur less frequently. Flushing water through the area may also help to clear out any feces left behind.

If the ileostomy closure becomes swollen, red, hot, or painful, or if it begins leaking pus or any other fluids, a doctor should be consulted because these are signs of infection. In most cases, a thorough cleaning of the area with antiseptic and sometimes antibiotics will remedy the problem. A nurse or aid will help teach you how to properly drain and clean the stoma to prevent infection from occurring.

Be sure to drain the pouch as often as your health care provider tells you to. Failure to do so could result in pouch rupture and internal infection or bleeding. This is a life threatening condition. If you notice any leakage from the ileostomy closure site, report this to your doctor immediately.

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