Catheters and Types

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What are Catheters?

Urinary catheters are thin, hollow, flexible tubes which serve a broad range of functions. They are medical devices that are inserted into the body with the purpose of injecting or draining fluids. Urology catheter types are used to carry medications, fluids or gases to patients or to drain bodily fluids such as urine. In urinary catheterization, these tubes are used to draw off urine from the urinary bladder into a urine drainage bag.

What are urinary catheters

Urinary catheters are generally advised to a patient who is unable to empty out his bladder on his own. A catheter is then inserted into his bladder to bring out the urine. Failing to do so could lead to build-up of urine in the bladder resulting in kidney failure.

What are urinary catheters used for

There are several criteria for catheter use. A person who has had a surgery on the prostate or genitals is unable to pass urine on his own. Another reason is urinary incontinence - which is an inability to control urine leading to leakage. A urinary catheter type may also be advised to someone who is unable to empty out his bladder because of bladder stones or blood clots in the urine. Catheterization may also be needed if there is narrowing of the urethra.

Dementia or spinal cord injury may also hamper the ability to pass urine normally and therefore, a doctor will recommend a catheter.

Medications could cause weakening of bladder muscles leading to an inability to squeeze and drain urine normally.

Types of urinary catheters

There are different kinds of catheters but there are three main types of urethral catheters - intermittent or short-term urinary catheter; external/condom urinary catheter and indwelling urinary catheter.

Intermittent urinary catheters

Intermittent urinary catheter is used only for a short time and typically after a patient has had surgery and unable to move around. But once the bladder is emptied or the patient can get out of bed, the intermittent urinary catheter is removed. Example of this type of urinary catheter is Bard Clean-Cath Intermittent PVC Urethral Catheter with Regular Tip. Another example is Rusch ERU Siliconized PVC Intermittent Catheter with Tiemann Tip which aids in negotiating difficult types of catheterizations.

What are external/condom catheters used for

This urology catheter type is not recommended for those with urinary retention problem because it is placedexternally and not inserted into the bladder. Designedfor men only, it is a device shaped liked a condom which is positioned over the penis head and connected to a urinary drainage bag.

This type of urinary catheter is usually recommended to those with functional or mental disabilities like dementia. Examples of such a type are Rochester Pop-On All Silicone Self Adhering Male External Catheter and Coloplast Freedom Cath Latex Male External Catheter.

Indwelling or Foley’s Catheters

This type of urinary catheter, also called Foley’s catheter, is for both short- and long-term use. An indwelling catheter can be left inside the body. It is inserted either through the urethra or through a small hole made in the abdomen directly into the bladder which is called a suprapubic catheter.

Examples of this type which include suprapubic catheter types are Bard Two-Way Lubri-Sil I.C. Infection Control Foley Catheter with 5cc Balloon and Kendall 2-Way Silicone Coated Latex 5 cc Foley Catheter.

Complications of urinary catheterization

Long-term use of urinary catheters does carry the risk of infection. Proper care and maintenance are vital when using a catheter. Indwelling catheters can lead to UTI, which is urinary tract infection. The symptoms are fever, chills, burning of the urethra or genital area. Headache, leaking of urine, blood in the urine, lower back pain and urine with a strong smell are other symptoms. More complications include allergy to latex, bladder stones, blood infection, kidney infection and damage.



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