Pancaking is a term used in the context of having a
colostomy, a surgical procedure that involves creating an opening in the
abdominal wall to divert the flow of stool from the colon to a stoma. This
procedure is often performed to treat various medical conditions, such as
colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or birth defects.
While colostomy can significantly improve the quality of
life for individuals with certain medical conditions, it can also bring about
unique challenges and complications. One such challenge is the occurrence of
pancaking, which refers to the accumulation of stool in the colostomy bag,
resulting in a blockage and preventing the free flow of waste material.
When stool accumulates in the colostomy bag, it forms a
pancake-like shape, hence the term "pancaking." This blockage can
occur due to several reasons, including the consistency of the stool,
inadequate lubrication within the bag, or poor gas release. The stool may
adhere to the inner walls of the bag, creating a vacuum effect and obstructing
the proper flow of waste.
Pancaking can cause significant discomfort and inconvenience
for individuals with a colostomy. It may lead to leakage or overflow,
necessitating frequent bag changes and interfering with daily activities.
Moreover, the pressure resulting from the accumulation of stool can cause the
bag's filter to become ineffective, leading to increased odor and potential
To address pancaking and its associated issues, various
strategies and products have been developed to improve the management of
colostomy. One common approach involves using specific pouching systems
designed to reduce the occurrence of pancaking. These systems may feature
integrated filters to enhance gas release and prevent the vacuum effect. Some
pouches have deodorizing properties to minimize odor, while others include lubricating
materials to facilitate the movement of stool within the bag
In addition to specialized pouching systems, certain
techniques can help individuals prevent or manage pancaking. These techniques
include regular irrigation, which involves flushing the colon with water to
stimulate bowel movements and maintain regularity. Irrigation can help regulate
stool consistency and reduce the likelihood of pancaking. Additionally,
adjusting dietary habits, such as increasing fluid intake and incorporating high-fiber
foods, can promote regular bowel movements and prevent stool from becoming too
thick or sticky.
It is crucial for individuals with a colostomy to work
closely with healthcare professionals, such as stoma nurses or enterostomal
therapists, who specialize in stoma care. These professionals can provide
guidance on proper bag selection, fitting, and maintenance, as well as offer
advice on managing pancaking and other potential complications. They can also
educate patients on lifestyle adjustments, dietary modifications, and
techniques to enhance stoma care and overall well-being.
Moreover, support groups and online communities can serve as
valuable resources for individuals with a colostomy. Also, The Phoenix Magazine
is a patient focused quarterly publication centered around all things ostomy.
They can be found online or by calling 1-800-750-9311. These platforms provide
opportunities for individuals to share their experiences, exchange tips, and
seek emotional support from others who can relate to their challenges.
In conclusion, pancaking is a term used to describe the
accumulation of stool in the colostomy bag, resulting in a blockage that
impedes the flow of waste material. It can cause discomfort, inconvenience, and
potential leakage for individuals with a colostomy. However, through the use of
specialized pouching systems, dietary modifications, and techniques like
irrigation, pancaking can be managed effectively. Collaboration with healthcare
professionals and seeking support from relevant communities can further enhance
the overall management of colostomy and improve the quality of life for
individuals living with this condition.