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Bowel Diversion Surgeries: Ileostomy, Colostomy, Ileoanal Reservoir, and Continent Ileostomy

What Is Bowel Diversion Surgery?

Bowel diversion surgery allows stool to safely leave the body when (because of disease or injury) the large intestine is removed or needs time to heal. Bowel is a general term for any part of the small or large intestine.

Some bowel diversion surgeries (those called ostomy surgery)divert the bowel to an opening in the abdomen where a stoma is created. A surgeon forms a stoma by rolling the bowel's end back on itself, like a shirt cuff, and stitching it to the abdominal wall. An ostomy pouch is attached to the stoma and worn outside the body to collect stool.

Other bowel diversion surgeries reconfigure the intestines after damaged portions are removed. For example, after removing the colon, a surgeon can create a colon like pouch out of the last part of the small intestine, avoiding the need for an ostomy pouch.

Cancer, trauma, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), bowel obstruction, and diverticulitis are all possible reasons for bowel diversion surgery.

Picture of a Stoma.

Which Parts of the Gastrointestinal Tract Are Affected by Bowel Diversion Surgeries?

Bowel diversion surgeries affect the large intestine and often the small intestine.

Small Intestine

The small intestine runs from the stomach to the large intestine and has three main sections: the duodenum, which is the first 10 inches; the jejunum, which is the middle 8 feet; and the ileum, which is the final 12 feet. Bowel diversion surgeries only affect the ileum.

Picture of Small Intestine.


Large Intestine

The large intestine is about 5 feet long and runs from the small intestine to the anus. The colon and rectum are the two main sections of the large intestine. Semisolid digestive waste enters the colon from the small intestine. Gradually, the colon absorbs moisture and forms stool as digestive waste moves toward the rectum. The rectum is about 6 inches long and is located right before the anus. The rectum stores stool, which leaves the body through the anus. The rectum and anus control bowel movements.


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