Time For A Colostomy Bag?

Some patients need a colostomy or ileostomy procedure due to a bowel injury, cancer, or severe gastrointestinal (GI) disease. With a colostomy, a surgeon diverts part of the large intestine to an opening in the abdomen. This opening then connects to a colostomy bag. Colostomy bags are medical-grade plastic bags that collect fecal matter through an opening in the abdominal wall. After the procedure, patients choose a bag, often called a pouching system.

mackinaw surgery center Types Of Colostomy _ Pouching Systems Understanding GI Alternatives.jpg

Understanding pouching systems

All pouching systems connect to a stoma. Stomas are the end of the intestine through a circular opening on the abdomen. Stomas are painless and may lie flat or protrude from the body. Pouching systems consist of a pouch that collects the waste. An adhesive tape called the skin barrier attaches to the skin and goes over the stoma. The skin barrier will have a hole to match the size and shape of the stoma. The pouch can now attach to the skin barrier to be comfortably held in place. Doctors recommend that patients try different pouching systems to see which one works best.

One-piece pouching systems

As the name implies, this pouching system comes in one piece. The skin barrier is attached to the pouch. When the patient attaches or removes the bag, the system works in one motion. The patient will peel off the adhesive cover and fasten the skin barrier and pouch to the stoma. One-piece systems are easy to use, discreet, and are often more cost-effective.

Two-piece pouching systems

With two-piece systems, the skin barrier and pouch are two separate pieces. The skin barrier is applied around the stoma first. Then the pouch is attached via a plastic flange. Two-piece systems are more costly but have lots of versatility. Patients can swap out the bag more frequently without irritating the skin. Changing the size or type of pouch also becomes easier for different activities.

Other factors to consider

Both pouching systems have additional features for convenience. For instance, some pouching systems have customizable skin barriers to fit the shape of the stoma. Others have filters for odors and different wear times before leakage occurs. Patients also have the option of choosing pouching systems that can drain waste or have transparent bags. These features have pros and cons, so patients should keep these in mind.

Choose what’s best

Colostomies can be temporary, lasting a few months or years, or permanent. Whatever the reason, pouching systems meet the different needs of the patient. A one-piece system may be more convenient, but a two-piece design is more versatile. Overall, both systems help patients have a better quality of life while treating gastrointestinal concerns.