What is Transanal Irrigation?
Transanal irrigation (TAI) is a safe way to empty the left colon by flushing it with lukewarm water. It generally empties a larger part of the bowel than an enema or rectal irrigation which means that you won’t have to do it as frequently. It helps you to establish a predictable pattern for your bowel movements and can significantly improve your routine. This will restore some of the control and freedom that you might have previously lost due to your bowel problems. Transanal irrigation can generally be used to help with both constipation and bowel incontinence.
Who can use TAI?
There are some requirements you need to fulfil for you to be able to use TAI. First of all, an accessible toilet at home is necessary as irrigation needs a considerable volume of water. This could potentially be too much for your bedside commode which is why a toilet is a must. Your dexterity and balance will also need to be good enough so you can insert the rectal catheter. To test this, you could try to touch your external anal sphincter while sitting on the toilet. Generally, if you’re able to do this, your dexterity is good enough for you to use TAI.
If you’re unable to perform TAI yourself, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the end of the road for you! If you have a carer, they can be trained to do it for you. It is important that they now how to insert a catheter and perform minimal rectal interventions that may be necessary. This is usually done while you’re sitting on your shower chair. There are also special bed systems if you’re bedbound.
Who shouldn’t use TAI?
There are certain groups of people who shouldn’t be using transanal irrigation. If you suffer from renal failure, need dialysis, or if you have a condition that restricts your fluid intake, TAI might not be right for you. It might also not suitable if you recently had bowel surgery. Ask your nurse or doctor about when it is safe to start irrigating again after your procedure. A healthcare professional can also assess whether TAI is right for your if you’re suffering from bowel problems including diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.