What is an ileostomy?

An ileostomy is a surgically created opening from your small bowel to the surface of your abdomen. An ileostomy provides a new path for waste material to leave your body after part of the bowel has been removed. It can produce output varying from liquid stool to a thick, porridge-like consistency.

Info: An ileostomy is usually on the right-hand side of your body, but in some circumstances may be formed on the lefthand side.

You will either have an end ileostomy or a loop ileostomy.


Top: The bowel and where an end ileostomy may be formed. Bottom: End ileostomy

End ileostomy

This is formed when all or part of the large bowel and/or the rectum are removed. Part of the small bowel is brought out to the surface of the abdomen to create a stoma.

End ileostomy:

  Large bowel (colon)




An end ileostomy can be temporary or permanent. If a temporary end ileostomy is created, a diseased section of large bowel is removed, but the remaining bowel cannot be re-joined at the same time as it is unsafe or inappropriate for your surgeon to do this at this time.

However, it may be possible to re-join your small bowel in the future, and this can be discussed with your surgeon.


Top: A diagram of the bowel and also where a loop ileostomy may be formed. Bottom: Loop ileostomy

Loop ileostomy

A loop ileostomy is usually created to protect a surgical join in the large bowel or to divert the flow of stool from an obstruction. It is formed when a loop of the small bowel is brought to the surface of the abdomen and opened to form a stoma. This can be temporary or permanent. A loop ileostomy can also be formed to protect the join following reconstruction surgery, such as an Ileo-anal pouch.

A loop ileostomy has two openings; only one of these will pass stool. The other may produce mucus.

Loop ileostomy:

  •   Large bowel
  •   Ileostomy
  •   Rectum
  •   Anus