What Is an Ileostomy Bag?

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An ileostomy is performed when the large intestine is no longer capable of performing its normal functions. In an ileostomy, an opening called a stoma is constructed to connect the small intestine to the skin, allowing fecal material to be expelled from the body without the large intestine's help.

How an Ileostomy Bag Works

  • The ileostomy bag sticks to the skin, usually on the right side of the body, and is waterproof. It filters out gas to keep the bag from swelling and becoming visible under clothing, and also deodorizes. Ileostomy bags can be permanent or temporary, depending on the condition necessitating their use.

Empty and Changing

  • Ileostomy bags must be emptied and changed several times a day, preferably when the intestines are not active and when the bag is one-third full. Bags should be emptied before removal, sealed in a disposal bag and thrown in the trash. Deodorants and sprays are available to hide smells when changing the bag.

Skin Care

  • The adhesive plate of an ileostomy bag must fit snugly around the stoma to prevent the skin from coming into contact with the fecal matter. Leakage can cause skin irritation. The stoma must be cleaned regularly. While some bleeding around the outside of the stoma is normal, blood from inside the body is reason to see a doctor.


  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

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