FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is an ileostomy procedure?
Ileostomies are surgical operations that divert the end or a loop of the small intestine through the abdominal wall. The resulting opening in the abdomen — the stoma — is covered with a special ostomy bag that collects waste products leaving the body. End ileostomies are usually permanent, while loop procedures are mostly temporary and can be reversed when no longer needed. Both types of procedures require wearing ileostomy pouches over the stoma.
How does an ileostomy bag work?
Ileostomy bags are available as one-piece or two-piece pouching systems. This depends on whether they come with a skin barrier attached to the pouch or the skin barrier is a separate piece with a flange. The skin barrier protects the peristomal skin and attaches the ileostomy bag to it to collect waste. The stool has a liquid or pasty consistency and bowel movement cannot be controlled, which is why the ileostomy bag should be worn at all times.
What sizes do ileostomy bags come in? Which size is right for me?
Ileostomy bags are generally 10 or 12 inches long, but the size that you should pay attention to is the flange diameter of the skin barrier, which ranges between 3/4" and 2 1/2". Stomas come in many shapes and sizes and it is common for them to change over time, especially in the first weeks after an ileostomy procedure. A good skin barrier fit is when the barrier opening leaves a gap of no more than 1/8 of an inch around the stoma. You should periodically use a stoma measuring guide to ensure proper fit.
What is the difference between an ileostomy bag and a colostomy bag?
While the terms ileostomy, ostomy and colostomy bags are often used to describe the same products, not all ileostomy pouches can be used for colostomies and vice versa. This is because ileostomy bags are designed to collect very soft feces and digestive enzymes, whereas colostomy bags are meant for solid fecal waste. Drainable pouches are the best choice for ileostomies, while closed-end pouches are more frequently used for colostomies. To make sure you get what you need, look for Best Use in the product details.
How should I clean an ileostomy bag?
First, you unfasten the bottom of the ileostomy pouch and drain it in the toilet. Then, you simply wipe the pouch outlet with a wet tissue or toilet paper and refasten. It is not necessary to rinse ileostomy bags between changes, but you should always wash your hands after emptying the bag, even if they don't seem soiled. Consider using pouch deodorants to control odor when emptying ileostomy bags and use air release vents to deal with gas build-up. AllegroMedical.com carries both these types of products, along with many other ostomy accessories and ostomy supplies that make dealing with ileostomies easier and more comfortable.
How long do you have to wear an ileostomy bag?
Temporary ileostomies can last for 3 to 6 months before a stoma reversal surgery is performed. Until then, you should always wear an ileostomy bag. Allegromedical.com sells ileostomy pouches in individual or multi-packs for your convenience.
How often do I change an ileostomy bag?
Whether you use one-piece or two-piece ileostomy pouches, you should empty drainable bags about 6 times a day and replace them every 3-4 days. It is best to empty the pouch when it is 1/3 full and you should never let it become more than half full, as the weight can loosen the seal and cause leakages. If you choose closed-end ileostomy bags, take into account that they are meant for single-use, which means you would need to change them several times a day. This is very inconvenient for ileostomies and more suitable for colostomies. The recommendation for ileostomies is to change the bag early in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. Also, avoid removing the skin barrier more than once a day as this could irritate the skin.
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