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Complications of surgery for ulcerative colitis

Surgeries to remove the colon and cure ulcerative colitis have potential complications. Complications after ileoanal anastomosis are more common than complications after proctocolectomy and ileostomy.

Ileoanal anastomosis

About one third of people who have this surgery eventually have one or more of the following:1

  • Blockage of the small intestine (small bowel obstruction)
  • Leakage of stool from the anus (incontinence)
  • Inflammation of the ileal pouch (pouchitis)
  • Pelvic or abdominal infection (sepsis)
  • Sexual difficulties

Proctocolectomy and ileostomy

The main complications after proctocolectomy and ileostomy include:1

  • Infection (also called sepsis).
  • Blockage of the small intestine (small bowel obstruction).
  • A problem with the opening in the stomach wall (the stoma). Some people need another surgery to repair the stoma.


  1. Cima RR, Pemberton JH (2006). Ileostomy, colostomy, and pouches. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2549-2561. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Author Monica Rhodes
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD
- Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP
- Gastroenterology
Last Updated November 14, 2006

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2006
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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