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What Is an Ostomy Pouch?

B. Chisholm
B. Chisholm

An ostomy pouch is the bag that is placed over a stoma to collect either urine or feces, depending on what type of stoma it is. Various types of ostomy pouches are available, some re-usable and others disposable. The choice of ostomy pouch will depend on the person's specific needs after an ostomy has been performed, and may change over time.

An ostomy is a surgical procedure which is performed to divert either feces, in the case of an ileostomy or colostomy, or urine, in the case of a urostomy, through an opening in the stomach. Intestine is usually used to create the diversion and the opening, or stoma, is placed either to the left or right of the belly button, on the stomach.


After surgery, the ostomy pouch is placed over the stoma, either as a two-piece system consisting of a wafer and pouch or as a one-piece system. This collects the feces or urine and is emptied on a regular basis. The whole system is also changed regularly. An ostomy nurse will be consulted to establish the best equipment on a patient-by-patient basis, as each person will have different needs.

The ostomy pouch may be closed or have a tap or valve at the bottom end out of which the waste is emptied. In the case of a urostomy, a collection bag may be joined at this point to allow collection of larger amounts of urine before emptying is necessary. This may be useful in numerous scenarios including long trips, during the night, and for paralyzed patients for whom emptying is not easy.

The managing of ostomy appliances, including the ostomy pouch, will be taught to the person or their care giver by the ostomy nurse, post-surgery. She will not only help with choosing the best equipment for the patient, but also train them in using everything. In the case of a one-piece system, the base and pouch are attached to each other. In a two-piece system, the ostomy pouch is clipped into the base. The two-piece systems allow movement of the bag at different angles and replacement of the pouch only, if necessary.

Living with an ostomy need not mean a major change in lifestyle. With the correct ostomy supplies and good training on the procedures involved, having an ostomy needn't adversely affect normal life at all. As technology advances so does the range of ostomy products, with newer, more efficient systems constantly being designed.

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