I just got my appointment through for a Gastrografin Enema on Monday the 19th, at 9:20am. This is the test that will determine whether or not I am eligible to have my ileostomy reversed.
The hospital staff will fill my lower bowel with a contrast agent, and then take a series of x-rays, while asking me to move through a series of positions to allow them to image all the colon clearly. Apparently this is fairly radiologically intensive; I get about 3 years of “normal” levels of radiation in only about 15 minutes. If there are no leaks where the surgeon excised the tumour and rejoined my colon, then the contrast agent will remain confined to the bowel. If any of the contrast agent leaks out into my body cavity then it will show up clearly on the x-rays, and obviously this indicates a problem with the surgical join in my colon.
In that case I won’t be able to go ahead with the ileostomy reversal, as I would end up contracting peritonitis and sepsis as the contents of my bowel leaked into my body cavity. Since those are both potentially fatal problems, I’m quite happy with them wanting to make sure everything is OK before going ahead with the reversal. However, I’m not sure what actually happens if I fail the test. Can they do some further work on the colon to repair the join and allow the reversal to go forward later, or does it mean I’m stuck with the ileostomy for life? That would be a real disappointment at this stage, after expecting for the last 6 months to be able to reverse it.
But hopefully I won’t have to worry about that; I’m working on the basis I’m going to pass the test without any problems.