Is There Still a Role for Continent Ileostomy in the Surgical Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

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The continent ileostomy (CI) was first described in 1969 as an important advancement in the surgical treatment of patients with ulcerative colitis, providing an option for fecal continence to patients who would otherwise require a conventional ileostomy. The CI enjoyed a brief period of relative popularity during the 1970s before being displaced by today's gold standard for the surgical treatment of ulcerative colitis, the restorative proctocolectomy (ileal pouch–anal anastomosis [IPAA]). Although the CI is only rarely performed today, it still has a role to play in the treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease who have failed medical treatment. Current indications are patients with failed IPAAs who are not candidates for redo-IPAA, patients who require total proctocolectomy but cannot be reconstructed with IPAA, and patients with an existing conventional ileostomy that is adversely affecting their quality of life. CI, however, is a complex procedure that carries significant risk of both postoperative complications and the need for reoperation over the long term due to slippage of the nipple valve. Patients being considered for this procedure should undergo extensive preoperative counseling and must have a thorough understanding of the associated risks and a realistic vision of anticipated benefits. In well-selected and properly motivated patients, however, CI can be durable in the majority with long-term pouch survival rates approaching 80%. Published data suggest that these patients enjoy greater quality of life than their counterparts with a conventional ileostomy and that 95% would choose to undergo the procedure again or recommend it to another.

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