What to Know about Ostomy Pouches

An ostomy pouch is a medical device that allows a way to collect waste from a biological system (bladder, ileum, colon) that's been surgically diverted and utilizes a stoma. Ostomy pouching systems are most frequently associated with urostomies, ileostomies, and colostomies. They most commonly consist of a one-piece system plastic bag collection pouch, which sometimes involves a flange (mounting plate) and a baseplate (wafer), or a two-piece system composed of a mechanically or adhesive-attached collection pouch. More simply put, an ostomy pouch collects any waste output from stomas. Using an ostomy pouching system helps a stoma to drain into a collection pouch that is sealed, while at the same time protecting all surrounding skin from being contaminated. Ostomy pouches are watertight and airtight, and permit a wearer to live an active life. Read on to learn more about ostomy bags.

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Frequently Asked Questions ( 8 )   Add a Question

  1. Does medical insurance cover ostomy supplies?
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    Medicare Part B does cover the equipment. Regular Medicare allows a certain maximum amount each month. Most individual health insurances will cover 80% of all "customary and reasonable" costs after you meet your deductible.

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  2. Can I wear the same clothes as before the surgery?
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    Yes. Most modern pouches are designed to be unnoticeable under your clothing. You might find belts a little restrictive and uncomfortable. Looser, higher waistbands on skirts and pants are recommended. Stretch or cotton knit underpants may give you extra security. Jockey type shorts for men help them to support the pouch.

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  3. What are some tips on pouch emptying?
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    Always empty your pouch before leaving the house if you'll be away from an available toilet. Make sure to check the pouch from time to time to so you can empty it before it becomes too full and starts to leak. Sit on a toilet holding the pouch between your legs. Remove clamp from the bottom and slowly unroll the pouch's tail into the toilet. Clean pouch inside and outside with toilet paper before replacing the clamp.

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  4. When should I call for medical assistance from an ostomy nurse or doctor?
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    Call for assistance if you have strong cramps that last longer than three hours, an acute watery discharge that lasts longer than six hours, have continuous vomiting or nausea, or if there's been no output for four to six hours and you also have nausea and cramping. Call if your stoma has a deep cut, if there's a lot of bleeding from your stoma opening, or if you develop deep ulcers or severe skin irritation.

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  5. Where can I buy ostomy supplies?
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    You can buy supplies from a pharmacy or medical supply store in your town, or from a mail order company. Check online or in the yellow pages under the sections labeled hospital supplies, surgical supplies, or ostomy supplies.

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  6. What happens if I get hospitalized again?
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    Make sure you bring all your ostomy supplies along because the hospital might not have your particular brand in stock. Tell them to list on your chart the type of ostomy you have, if your rectum is intact, a list of all the ostomy products you use, and what your particular management routine is. Also, if you have a urinary stoma, don't take any urine specimens from the pouch. Tell them to take specimens by inserting a catheter into the stoma.

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  7. What are some ostomy travel tips?
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    Make sure you pre-cut all your pouches at home, so you don't have to carry scissors in your luggage. Make certain ostomy supplies are in both your checked luggage as well as your carry-on luggage. Carry a doctor's note explaining your condition. If you're going to a foreign country it's good to carry a copy of your ostomy information translated into the country's language.

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  8. How often should you change an ostomy pouch?
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    The durability and adhesiveness of pouching systems can vary. Most doctors recommend that you change the pouch anytime between three and seven days. If you are experiencing burning or itching, that's a sign that your system's wafer should be changed. If you change your pouch too frequently or wear one too long you might experience some skin damage.

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