A colostomy is a surgically created opening in the abdomen that allows stool to empty from the intestine. During colostomy surgery, an opening called a stoma is made in the abdomen. Then, one end of the large intestine is pulled through the stoma. The exposed end of the large intestine is called a colostomy. After surgery, a colostomy bag is attached to the skin around the colostomy for stool collection. There are different types of colostomy bags.
Closed Ended Bags
Patients who have colostomies need a colostomy bag system that consists of a wafer and the colostomy bag. The wafer is attached to the skin around the colostomy and then the colostomy bag is attached to it. Colostomy bags may be sealed or open at the bottom. Colostomy bags that have closed bottoms are typically thrown away after being used once. This type of bag is common among patients who irrigate--flush stool out of their colostomy at scheduled times--their colostomies.
Open Ended Bags
Open ended colostomy bags are not discarded after one use. Instead, they are sealed with a device that can be opened and closed. This way, the bag can be opened from the bottom, emptied, cleaned and used a few more times before being discarded.
One Piece Bag System
The one piece colostomy bag system does not require assembly of the wafer, also known as the skin barrier and colostomy bag. It is a system that is attached directly to the skin. This type of system can be used with an open or closed ended bag. However, when the bag needs to be changed, the entire system has to be removed from the skin. Because this system does not need any assembly, it may be ideal for patients who have hand problems, such as arthritis.
Two Piece Bag System
The two piece colostomy bag system is made of the skin barrier and the bag--which could be closed or open ended. To use this system, the skin barrier is applied first and then the bag is attached to it. The advantage of this system is that it can be used with different types of bags because the bag can be removed and changed. A small bag could be worn for activities like swimming and a closed ended bag could be used to facilitate disposal of the colostomy bag after one use only. Also, to change bags, the entire system does not have to be removed. Instead, the wafer is left on the skin while the bag is replaced.