Common Reasons for an Ileostomy

People have ileostomy surgery for various medical reasons. Explore some of the more typical illnesses and conditions that can result in having an ileostomy. 

Essential Facts about Your Colostomy

Learn about the common reasons for ileostomy surgery.

There are several medical reasons why someone may need ileostomy surgery. Regardless of the specific illness or condition, an ileostomy is needed when the large intestine cannot safely process waste.

Deciding on an ileostomy

If your doctor has recommended ileostomy surgery, it’s normal to feel cautious or even scared. You may also feel a little overwhelmed by all the information provided to you by your healthcare team. 

Some people opt to get a second opinion before undergoing such a life-changing procedure. If all of your healthcare providers agree that an ileostomy is the best way to help get you well again, the next step is to remember that you’re not alone. There are tens of thousands of people of all ages that have successfully undergone some type of ostomy surgery.

Why do I need an ileostomy?

Below is a list of some of the more common reasons for ileostomy surgery:

  • Ulcerative colitis: UC is a form of colitis, a disease of the large intestine or colon that includes characteristic ulcers, or open sores, in the colon. An ileostomy may be necessary for this chronic condition if drug therapy has been unsuccessful. If symptoms become severe, an ileostomy may be your health provider’s recommendation.
  • Crohn's disease: Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Crohn’s affects 780,000 people in the U.S. If diet, lifestyle, and medications do not ease the painful and sometimes debilitating symptoms, your doctor may recommend ileostomy surgery.
  • Familial Polyposis Coli (FPC), aka Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP): This inherited condition causes multiple polyps to develop in the large intestine (colon) and rectum, which can become malignant over time. If other surgical options aren’t feasible, or if your rectum or anus is damaged, your physician may recommend an ileostomy.
  • Congenital (present at birth): Ileostomy surgery may be needed when a newborn is diagnosed with an intestinal birth defect.
  • Staged process for other surgery: In some cases, the ileostomy may be part of multiple procedures or be temporary. For example, a temporary loop ostomy is typically reversed when your physician determines you are medically and surgically ready.

Talk to your healthcare team about your specific situation. They can help you become more comfortable and gain confidence that an ileostomy is right for you.