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Ostomy material: every situation is different

More than three-quarters of all ostomates encounter problems with their ostomy material. The most prevalent issues are leakages, followed by skin problems and pancaking. This emerged from a graduation assignment carried out by Hanneke Reuvekamp, who is studying for a Master’s degree in Industrial Design Engineering at the University of Twente, TechMed Centre. Unfortunately, the reasons for these issues are unclear. In some cases, this is because people are not using the ostomy material properly. In other cases, the ostomy material is either unable to adhere properly or to conform to the shape of the person’s body.

This research shows that there is still no universal panacea. Various individual solutions are certainly available, but ostomates consider these to be stop-gap measures rather than long-term remedies. The measures mentioned in this connection include carrying extra materials, preventive renewal of the system, and the use of supplementary aids. 

The most commonly used solutions:

The most commonly used supplementary aids for mitigating skin problems are:

  • Barrier wipes, sprays, and powders
  • Special creams
  • Fillers (such as flange extenders or convex plates)

In addition, research shows that ostomates generally tend to combine an average of two different products and methods. This is because a single product is usually unable to deal with the problem effectively.

Ostomy material still scores an 8

Despite the problems, ostomates still give their ostomy material an average score of 8. Those who participated in this study explained that, by and large, people either accept these problems or feel that they are only to be expected. They do not expect the material to be 100% effective. These subjects also felt that, despite all the problems, life with an ostomy is still better than having to cope with a serious disease. This is because, in relative terms, their ostomy gives them a better quality of life.

Tips: What could be improved?

The ostomates felt that the most potentially beneficial solution would be one that either prevented leakages entirely or mitigated any that do occur. Fewer leakages could result in fewer psychological problems. Research has identified a number of potentially useful tips:

  • Simplify the use of ostomy material, to make it easier to apply. That way, the consequences of incorrect use will be less severe.
  • When developing ostomy material, focus on actually solving the problem rather than just mitigating it.
  • Here, there is no such thing as a universal panacea – ostomy care does require, and will continue to require, an individual solution. 

Further details

Read the white paper here. See also the announcement of Stomavereniging. Hanneke Reuvekamp is studying for a Master’s degree in Industrial Design Engineering at the University of Twente. Her graduation assignment supervisors are Edsko Hekman, department of Biomechanical Engineering, and Dave Matthews, Department of Mechanics of Solids, Surfaces & Systems, at the Faculty of Engineering Technology’s (ET).

drs. M.M.J. van Hillegersberg - Hofmans (Martine)
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