What is a Colostomy Pouch?

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  • Written By: C. K. Lanz
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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A colostomy pouch or ostomy pouching system is a small plastic bag that is used for collecting the stool or other biological waste of patients who have had a medical procedure or who suffer from a condition that does not allow for normal waste vacuation. The typical colostomy pouch includes a collection pouch attached to a mounting plate or base plate via an air and watertight seal. The mounting plate is attached to the patient’s stoma, an opening on the surface of the abdomen through which stool leaves the colon. Patients with colostomy pouches can lead a normal and active lifestyle with a few minor adjustments to their daily routines.

A colostomy is the most common medical procedure that requires a patient to use a colostomy pouch. In some cases, a section of the colon is removed due to colon cancer. It is no longer possible for the patient to pass his or her stool through the anus, and a stoma is made to serve this purpose.

Sometimes the need for a stoma and colostomy pouch is temporary. This is often the case when the affected section of colon only needs to be rested while it heals. Children who have surgery to remove pelvic tumors may have to wear a colostomy pouch prior to the procedure.


There are several different types and sizes of colostomy pouches. An open-ended pouch allows for the contents to be drained through an opening on the bottom. In contrast, a close-ended pouch has to be discarded and replaced when full.

A colostomy pouch is either a one- or two-piece system. The one-piece system includes both a pouch and the adhesive skin barrier together. A two-piece pouch can be removed without removing the mounting base. Mounting bases are typically made with pectin or other organic material.

A patient who requires a colostomy pouch will have to both empty and change the pouch. Pouches are normally emptied once they are one-third to one-half full and the patient can squeeze the contents into the toilet. Once the pouch has been drained, the wearer simply cleans the end with toilet paper and reseals the end according to the manufacturer’s or caregiver’s instructions.

The amount of time that a patient can wear a pouch before changing it depends on several factors. The type of colostomy pouch, the amount of stool, and a patient’s diet are affected how long a pouch can be worn before it needs to be changed. Patients should follow their caregiver’s instructions with regard to the frequency of pouch changing.

A patient with a colostomy pouch can eat a normal diet. Fiber is important to include because it can help prevent constipation. Avoiding foods like eggs, fish, and cauliflower can reduce odor and gas. Consuming between eight and ten glasses of water a day can also help keep the vacuation of stool comfortable.


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