An ostomy pouching system is a prosthetic medical device that provides a means for the collection of waste from a surgically diverted biological system (colon, ileum, bladder) and the creation of a stoma. Pouching systems are most commonly associated with colostomies, ileostomies, and urostomies.

Surface barriers

Ostomy barriers sit on the skin and separate the ostomy pouch from the internal conduit. They are not always present. These barriers, also called flanges, wafers, or baseplates are manufactured using pectin or similar organic material and are available in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate a person’s particular anatomy.


The method of attachment to the barrier varies between manufactures and includes permanent, press-on, turning locking rings and “sticky” adhesive mounts. The two-piece arrangement allows pouches to be exchanged without removing the wafer, some people prefer to temporarily switch to a “mini-pouch” for swimming, intimate and other short-term activities.

Routine care

People with colostomies must wear an ostomy pouching system to collect intestinal waste. Ordinarily the pouch must be emptied or changed a couple of times a day depending on the frequency of activity; in general the further from the anus the ostomy is located the greater the output and more frequent the need to empty or change the pouch.


A colostomy is an opening in the large intestine, or the surgical procedure that creates one. The opening is formed by drawing the healthy end of the colon through an incision in the anterior abdominal wall and suturing it into place. This opening, often in conjunction with an attached ostomy system, provides an alternative channel for feces to leave the body. Thus if the natural anus is not available for that job (for example, in cases where it has been removed in the fight against colorectal cancer or ulcerative colitis), an artificial anus takes over. It may be reversible or irreversible, depending on the circumstances.


Ileostomy is a stoma (surgical opening) constructed by bringing the end or loop of small intestine (the ileum) out onto the surface of the skin, or the surgical procedure which creates this opening. Intestinal waste passes out of the ileostomy and is collected in an external ostomy system which is placed next to the opening. Ileostomies are usually sited above the groin on the right hand side of the abdomen.


A urostomy is a surgical procedure that creates a stoma (artificial opening) for the urinary system. A urostomy is made to avail for urinary diversion in cases where drainage of urine through the bladder and urethra is not possible, e.g. after extensive surgery or in case of obstruction.


Ostomy systems often take some time for a person to adjust to, including requiring time to learn how to use them and change the pouch, as well as psychologically adjust. The time taken to adjust may last for more than a year. Because of embarrassment or stigma associated with an ostomy system, a person who has an ostomy system can experience social isolation, depression, and change in sexual function as well as physical complications such as weight change.