Question: Addressing Urgency Issues After Ileostomy Reversal

My husband underwent ileostomy for 13 months due to rectal cancer surgery and had the ileostomy reversed in September 2022. Since the reversal, he experiences significant urgency, which affects his ability to resume normal activities. He does not have incontinence issues. Are there specific training exercises or practices he should follow to improve bowel control?

Response: Guidance for Post-Reversal Bowel Control

It’s great to hear about the successful reversal of your husband’s ileostomy. To address the urgency issues he’s experiencing, it’s important to consult with your family doctor or the surgeon who performed the reversal. Here are some key questions to discuss during the consultation:

  1. Surgical Impact on the Rectum: Inquire whether any part of the rectum was removed during the initial surgery, and if so, how this might affect bowel control.
  2. Potential Long-term Effects: Understand any potential long-term effects of the surgery on the rectum and overall bowel function.
  3. Referral for Rehabilitation: Request a referral to a specialist who can develop a tailored plan for rectal exercises or other rehabilitation techniques. This could include a pelvic floor physiotherapist or a bowel control specialist.
  4. Personalized Recommendations: Ask if the doctor has any specific suggestions or exercises that your husband can start doing at home to aid in regaining bowel control.

It’s essential to tailor the approach to your husband’s specific medical history and the details of his surgery. A thorough assessment and personalized plan can significantly improve his quality of life and ability to return to regular activities.

Warm Regards,

Karen Bruton, RN BScN MCISc-WH WOCC(C)
Nurse Education Consultant – Interprofessional Practice Support
Indigenous Services Canada, Government of Canada
Ostomy Canada (Volunteer)
Medical and Lifestyle Advisory Team Lead


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