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Ileostomy Reversal

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What do I need to know about an ileostomy reversal?

An ileostomy reversal, or closure, is surgery to close your temporary ileostomy. Your healthcare provider will reattach your ileum to your colon. He or she will also close your stoma.

What will happen before my surgery?

  • You may need an enema before your surgery. The enema has a contrast liquid in it that shows up on an x-ray. Your healthcare provider will check for leaking contrast liquid in your colon. He or she may also check your anal sphincter to make sure it is working properly. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests you may need.
  • The day before surgery, your healthcare provider will tell you to only have clear liquids.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you not to eat or drink for 8 hours before your surgery.
  • He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not to take the morning of your surgery.

What will happen during the surgery?

  • You will be given anesthesia to keep you asleep and pain-free during the surgery.
  • Your healthcare provider will make an incision around your stoma. He or she will bring the ends of your ileum and colon out of your abdomen. Your healthcare provider will connect them with stitches or staples. He or she may inject salt water to check for leaks.
  • Your healthcare provider will place your reattached intestines back into your abdomen through the incision. He or she will close the opening on your abdomen with stitches. Your healthcare provider may place a drain under your skin to remove extra fluid. He or she may also leave part or all of your skin open to heal on its own. Your wound may be covered with a bandage.

What will happen after my surgery?

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. You will have to stay in the hospital until your bowels begin to function properly.

What are the risks of ileostomy reversal surgery?

  • You may bleed more than expected. You may get an infection. You may become dehydrated.
  • You may bleed from where your ileum is stitched or stapled. After surgery, bowel contents may leak into your abdomen and cause an infection. You may also get an infection or abscess where your stoma was closed. You may have narrowing in your intestine that makes it difficult to have a bowel movement. Your intestines may also stop working for a short time after the surgery.
  • A fistula (abnormal tissue opening) may form between your intestines and a nearby organ. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.