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A pilot clinical trial of a stoma output recycling device

By Associate Professor Gregory O’Grady

A temporary ileostomy is used often for people with colorectal cancer.

This procedure attaches the opened small intestine onto the skin through an incision in the abdomen. Gut contents then flow into a bag instead of passing through the colon. Aside from posing a challenge to patients, ileostomies cause fluid and nutrient loss due to bypass of the resorptive functions of the bowel. This often leads to dehydration or impaired kidney function, especially in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

This may mean patients with stomas missing doses of chemotherapy, or requiring changes to their treatment. A further 10% of patients are readmitted to hospital for fluid replacement, all due to ‘stoma-diarrhoea’.

This pilot evaluates a new device that prevents nutrient and fluid loss from stomas. It works by simply pumping the effluent from the stoma back into the intestine. Researchers have shown this device works and is safe. They now hope to run a small pilot randomized trial in patients having chemotherapy, to see if the device is practical, effective and well-liked. If successful, researchers will run a larger trial. The device will become important in improving outcomes for cancer patients with stomas.