Ask the Ostomy Nurse

Linda Coulter has been a Certified Wound Ostomy & Continence Nurse for 10 years. In addition to working with hundreds of people with stomas, she has trained several WOC nursing students at the R.B. Turnbull Jr. School of WOC Nursing. Linda has presented nationally and internationally on ostomy related topics. From her home base at University Hospitals’ Ahuja Medical Center, Linda is active in raising Ostomy Awareness, and works to distribute ostomy supplies to people in need throughout the world.

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Filtered Pouches

I am wondering what your experience with filtered pouches is. Do they actually work? Are all the filters the same or do different brands have different filters? I don’t want to spend the extra money unless it is worth it. Thank you.


Dear C.S.,

Frequently I’ve told my clients that if they can design a long lasting, effective filter for an ostomy pouch, they’ll become millionaires. That tells you a little bit about my experience with existing ostomy pouch filters. Having said that, let me go into a bit more detail on each of your questions.

Do the filters work? Well, yes and no. Most people tell me that the filter on their pouch works for a day or two, which usually is how long it take the filter to get soiled or wet. People who have colostomies that produce fairly formed stool once or twice a day should find that the pouch filter is effective for longer. If the stool is pasty or liquid, or if the pouch is used for an ileostomy, the filter will get soiled and wet more quickly, so it will be effective for a shorter period of time.

To help improve the life of your filter, be sure to use the filter cover when showering, bathing, or swimming. A wet filter is an ineffective filter.

For many years, each pouch manufacturer used a filter with a similar design: a carbon/charcoal filter, located at the top of the pouch, with a few tiny holes in the plastic of the pouch that allow gas to escape. Again, designs were similar, but exactly which filter they used and how it was attached varied by manufacturer. As stated above, with all of those pouches, people have told me either that the filters don’t work or that they don’t work after a day or so of wearing the pouch.

Things changed a few years ago. That’s when Coloplast introduced a new product to the market, called Sensura Mio. This product includes a lot of new features, including a reformulated skin barrier, a different pouch material, and a new filter. This filter looks and performs completely differently than other filters, including filters on other Coloplast products, namely Assura and Sensura. The Mio filter is circular and it includes a “pre-filter” with protects the filter from output, so it won’t get clogged, and the filter will last longer. In my practice, I’ve actually encountered situations when this filter will be too effective. That is, it lets out so much gas that the pouch looks like it is suctioned down, onto the stoma, which hinders the stoma output from flowing freely into the pouch.

If you are currently not using a filtered pouch, but would like to just try it without buying a full box, contact the pouch manufacturer by calling their customer service line or by visiting their website. Companies will gladly send you one or two filtered pouches for you to try. Also try the Mio pouch with its circular filter. If you find it works too well, cover the filter partially to slow the gas release.

Finally, consider one other product, Osto-EZ-Vent from KEM enterprises. Some of my clients swear by this product. It is a small plastic device that attaches to your pouch. If the pouch begins to balloon, step into a restroom and unplug the device and easily vent the pouch.  Visit the company’s website to request samples and learn more about how it works.

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