Treating Ulcerative Colitis With J-Pouch Surgery

If you have inflammatory bowel disease, chances are you may have heard of j-pouch surgery at least once. J-pouch is used to treat ulcerative colitis and IBD, both of which are not treatable through medications.

What is j-pouch surgery?

J-pouch surgery, also known as ileal pouch-anal anastomosis, is a procedure aimed at removing the colon without requiring an ostomy. During this procedure, the surgeon removes the colon and rectum. He then folds the end of the small intestine into itself and sews confronting sides of the fold to create a pouch. This pouch serves as a stool reservoir, with its function similar to that of the rectum. The surgeon connects this reservoir to the anal canal, allowing the patient to excrete the stool naturally.

While this procedure eliminates the need for a permanent ostomy, the temporary one is required. That makes this entire surgical procedure a two-part endeavor.

  • The surgeon will remove your colon and rectum during the first surgery. He will create the j-pouch. He will also create a temporary ileostomy to allow stool evacuation. This temporary ileostomy is required until the j-pouch heals and is ready to work.
  • You will have to undergo the second surgery three to four months after the first surgery. This surgery aims at reversing the ostomy, allowing the patient to get rid of bodily wastes through the anus afterward.

Adjusting to the j-pouch

The journey to natural bowel movements from total colectomy after j-pouch surgery sounds pretty simple and straightforward to individuals who do not know much about the complexity of human anatomy. However, it is not that simple. After j-pouch surgery, it is not uncommon to experience some side effects. The good thing is that those side effects can help you adapt to your j-pouch. Here is what you may want to know in this regard.

  • First off, you will have an increased frequency of bowel movements. It is, however, not as frequent as for individuals with ulcerative colitis. This frequency will reduce as your body adapts to the j-pouch. Nonetheless, the frequency of your bowel movements will remain higher compared to people with fully intact bowels.
  • Pouchitis can happen after surgery. This condition refers to the inflammation that can result in diarrhea, pain, fever, and a more frequent urge to go to the toilet. Antibiotics may help treat this condition. Sometimes, hospitalization may become crucial.
  • Having a j-pouch means you have to live without a colon. Since your colon is responsible for water absorption from digestive wastes, living without it will result in watery stools. That raises the risk of dehydration. That is why patients with j-pouches are recommended to drink plenty of water to compensate for the water loss.

J-pouch is a more viable treatment option for people who are weak and have to get their colons removed. However, it is not the right choice for everyone. If you want to have a j-pouch, you have to speak to your doctor. He will explain to you the prerequisites to qualify for j-pouch surgery.