Post Op Ileus, A Personal Experience
I am in no means a medical professional. This information in the blog post is all purely based on my personal experience and medical jargon gleaned from Google and put into terms we can all understand.
So, what is post op ileus?
Will it happen to everyone having abdominal surgery?
What causes this to happen?
Ileus is the medical term for this lack of movement somewhere in the intestines that leads to a build-up and potential blockage of food material.
An ileus can lead to an intestinal obstruction. This means no food material, wind, or liquids can get through.
It is typically a symptom post-operative after abdominal surgery.
What are the symptoms associated with post op ileus?
An ileus can cause extreme abdominal discomfort.
Symptoms associated with ileus include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Appetite loss
- Feeling of fullness
- Inability to pass wind
- Stomach Swelling
- Vomiting – Not pleasant but this is normally a rather dark green in colour
Medications that can aid post op ileus;
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Antidepressants such as amitriptyline & imipramine (Tofranil)
It is important that you notify your doctor or nurse if you are experiencing these symptoms post op as if left it could potentially lead to a bowel perforation.
My Personal Experience
I have been rather unlucky in the fact that I have had this at every stoma surgery and re-section surgery I have had performed. I can tell you now that it is not pleasant, but it can in most cases quickly pass. My last stint in hospital I had post op ileus for 8 days until it finally cleared. I learnt in those 8 days that I should have probably gone for the NG tube as this would have eased the amount that I was vomiting but I don’t like the mental aspect of having it placed, thankfully my doctor on the morning rounds agreed with me and said better out than in. I also found out I am rather good at switching out the sick buckets mid-stream. In the end I spent 8 days of attempting plain old water and was pumped with IV fluids to help with the dehydration I was experiencing. I also opted to come off all opiates as that wasn’t helping with the symptoms and I was managing my post-surgery pain with IV paracetamol and IV buscopan to help with the cramping and the wind. I found that as the symptoms eased my appetite gradually made a comeback and I was back to eating after 8 days of nothing going in other than fluids.
Studies by the BBC
BBC studies as quoted via the NHS has shown that chewing gum after surgery stimulates the nerves and digestive system into restarting and therefore helping to reduce the risks of post op ileus. Some people swear by this in the Facebook groups but personally not sure if this works as it’s based on a small study, and as reiterated I am in no means a medical professional. Best advice I can give is to ask you surgeon as to if this may work as they are the professionals.
Many thanks for reading
The information in this blog is intended to give advice to ostomates. The information given in this blog is based on Louise’s personal experience and should not be taken as clinical advice. Each ostomates needs are unique to them and their stoma care routine. Please consult with your Stoma Care Nurse before undertaking any changes to your stoma care routine.