Many people around us have undergone different types of surgical procedures but they have managed and adapted their lifestyle to such an extent that people around them do not get the idea that they had any disease condition earlier. One such example is colostomy. People with colostomy or ileostomy have embraced this surgical procedure so nicely with the help of a colostomy bag.
Colostomy bags are special medical devices that are used to collect feces or body waste. Indeed, colostomy bags have significantly improved the quality of life for many individuals. In this informative article, we delve into what a colostomy bag is and explore its crucial role in the lives of those who rely on it.
What is a colostomy bag?
A colostomy bag is a plastic pouch that is used to collect digestive waste called stool or poop from the digestive tract via the stoma. A stoma is an opening that is created in your abdomen by diverting the small portion of the large intestine into your abdomen. Now this stoma will be used to expel stool from the body. Since the stoma lacks nerve endings, therefore, you don’t have any control over your bowel movement, that’s why colostomy bags remain attached to the stoma to collect any waste that is expelled by the stoma.
What is a colostomy bag used for?
Colostomy bags are used to collect waste excreted from the stoma in the abdominal wall rather than the colon. The need for colostomy bags arises in conditions that involve damage to the colon or large intestine. This includes:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Colorectal cancer
Read More: Why Would You Need a Colostomy Bag?
Parts of colostomy bag:
Usually, the colostomy pouching system consists of two parts:
The attached part: the part of the colostomy pouching system that is attached to the skin around the stoma is called the flange, wafer, or sometimes skin barrier. Their main purpose is to hold the pouch in place.
The bag part: the part of the colostomy bag that is attached to the flange to collect the stools as it passes through the stoma.
Read More: How Dangerous is a Colostomy Reversal?
Types of colostomy pouching system:
Based on parts of the pouch:
Usually, there are two types of colostomy pouching systems. Each type has its advantages. You will find flange and pouch in both types.
One-piece pouching system: In this type of pouching system the skin barrier or flange is attached to the pouch permanently, making it a single unit. You will have to remove the pouching system completely when you need to change the pouch. Technically speaking, it’s very easy to apply, just peel, stick and you are good to go. The one-piece pouching system lies flat against the skin and hence is less visible under the clothes. So a one-piece pouching system is the best choice if you have a bulge or hernia near your stoma.
A one-piece pouching system is best when:
- When you require a simple peel-and-stick system
- When you don’t want your ostomy pouch to be visible
- When you have a bulge or hernia around the stoma
- When you are concerned about the cost, as these are less expensive
Tow piece pouching system: this is one of the flexible types of pouching system. It comprises of two parts: a skin barrier or flange and a pouch. These two parts are connected by a plastic ring making it easier to unsnap and throw away the pouch when needed. The main advantage of a two-piece pouching system is you can change the pouch without removing the skin barrier. Due to this advantage, you can use different pouches for different activities. For instance, you can switch to a smaller pouch for sports or intimate moments.
- Two-piece pouching system is best when:
- When you don’t want to remove the skin barrier every now and then
- When you want to change the pouch more frequently
- When you plan to wear different pouches for different activities,
Based on the mechanism of the pouch:
When it comes to the mechanism of the pouch, we have two types of pouches that are:
Drainable pouches are made for easy emptying. They come with either a clamp or a built-in closure mechanism. These pouches must be emptied when they are about one-third to half full. If you have frequent output throughout the day, drainable pouches are a good choice. Emptying them is fast and simple.
Read More: What to Expect After Colostomy Surgery
Closed pouches are easy to use – you can remove and throw them away without needing to drain anything. If your waste output is less frequent, and you only need to empty your pouch once or twice a day, a closed pouch might be a good choice. Unlike drainable pouches, closed pouches don’t have clamps. When it’s time to empty, you remove the pouch, empty it, and then dispose of it.
Read More: Can a CNA Change a Colostomy Bag?
The purpose of a colostomy bag:
A colostomy bag serves a crucial purpose for individuals who have undergone colostomy surgery.
The main purposes of a colostomy bag include:
The primary function of a colostomy bag is to collect and contain waste material (stool) from the digestive system. Waste material that was used to eliminate from the rectum is now directed out of the body through the stoma into the colostomy bag.
Managing Gastrointestinal Conditions:
Colostomy surgery is often performed as a treatment for various medical conditions such as colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, or trauma to the abdominal area. The colostomy surgery aims to give rest to the colon so that it can heal properly and, in some cases, when the colon is removed like in colorectal cancer. The colostomy bag allows individuals to manage these conditions effectively by providing an alternative route for waste elimination.
Improving Quality of Life:
For individuals who have undergone colostomy surgery, the colostomy bag can significantly improve their quality of life by enabling them to continue daily activities without the discomfort and inconvenience associated with their underlying medical condition.
Temporary or Permanent Solution:
Colostomy bags can be used for a short time or a long time, depending on the person’s health needs. If someone has surgery and needs time for the lower colon or rectum to heal, they might need a colostomy bag for a short period of time. On the other hand, if the usual way the body gets rid of waste is changed forever, a permanent colostomy might be done. In this condition, a patient has to live with a colostomy bag throughout his life.
Enabling Normal Activities:
By using a colostomy bag, people can participate in their regular daily routines like work, exercise, and socializing without worrying about unexpected bowel movements.
In conclusion, a colostomy bag plays a vital role in the lives of individuals who have undergone colostomy surgery. These specially designed medical devices help divert waste from the natural route, allowing individuals to manage gastrointestinal conditions effectively. the purpose of a colostomy bag extends beyond its practical function of waste collection. It empowers individuals to engage in normal daily activities without the fear of unexpected bowel movements, contributing to their overall well-being and allowing them to lead fulfilling lives.