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Intermittent Catheters – Buying Guide

Intermittent catheters are used when there is a need to empty the bladder occasionally. They are required to be inserted for a short duration, as and when required, to drain out the bladder completely. There is no need to wear these catheters continuously. Whenever users feel like, they can insert the catheter, drain the urine and remove the catheter again. Intermittent urinary catheters are designed to help users who cannot empty their bladder naturally.

What is Intermittent Catheterization?

Intermittent catheterization is a process that enables the users to empty their bladder on a regular basis. The catheter is inserted and removed several times a day, giving more freedom and control to users. Completely emptying the bladder reduces the number of times a user needs to pass urine, prevents kidney damage and minimize the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI). The process of intermittent catheterization is easy to learn and requires the guidance of a healthcare practitioner to determine its frequency. It can be carried out anywhere and by anyone.

Choosing the Right Intermittent Catheter

Choosing the right intermittent catheter is crucial for safe and secure intermittent catheterization. Failing to do so can result in improper emptying of the bladder and urethral damage. Keep the following points in mind while buying an intermittent catheter to get the most out of intermittent catheterization:

Catheter Sizes

While choosing an intermittent catheter, catheter size plays a very important role. Catheters are sized by a measure called French size (Fr), which is the diameter of the catheter. Typically, this diameter falls between 5 Fr to 20 Fr. Catheter size can also be determined by its funnel color. If a catheter has a larger diameter than required, it may cause strain on urethra, resulting in urethral damage. If the size chosen is too small, it may take too long to drain the urine completely.

Since everyone has a unique anatomy, there is no single catheter size that fits all. You may take help of your healthcare professional to determine the right size according to your anatomy. Choosing the right catheter size will allow you to maintain timely pace of urine flow without any pain or discomfort.

Catheter Lengths

Intermittent catheters come in three different lengths - male, female, and pediatric. Shorter lengths are generally used by women and children because they have shorter urethral lengths.

  • Male length catheters usually have a length of 16 inches.
  • Female length catheters usually have a length of 6-8 inches.
  • Pediatric length catheters usually have a length of 6-12 inches.
     

 Catheter Lengths

If a catheter shorter than required is chosen, it may result in improper emptying of bladder, leading to urinary tract infections. If the catheter is too long, it may create difficulty in handling.

Catheter Tips

Intermittent urinary catheters generally have two types of tips - straight tip and coude tip.

  • Straight tip: Straight tip catheters are the most common type of catheters as they work with a broad spectrum of people including men, women and children. Straight tip is the basic tip which works best when there is no urological complication like urethral narrowing or enlarged prostate.
  • Coude tip: Coude tip is also known as a bent or curved tip. It is used to traverse the obstructions in urethra like urethral stricture or enlarged prostates. Coude tips usually accompany male length catheters because these complications are common in men. Coude tip catheters should be inserted carefully because they can cause injury if used incorrectly.
     

 Catheter Tips

Catheter Funnels

  • Funnel Ends: Catheters with color-coded funnel ends help in easy identification of French size. Funnel ends help in gripping the catheters without touching their tube to prevent any sort of contamination. They are also used to attach to the drainage bags.
  • Luer Ends: Luer ends are like ends of an open tube. They do not have any funnel. Catheters with luer ends are preferred sometimes because of their discreet and compact packaging. They become easy and convenient to carry along.
     

 Catheter Funnels

Steps to Easy Male Catheterization

  1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Wash the genitals or use disposable wet wipes to cleanse them. If uncircumcised, pull the foreskin back and then cleanse.
  3. If you are using a hydrophilic catheter, soak it according to the instructions of the manufacturer. In case of an uncoated catheter, put some lubrication jelly to its starting 6 inches.
  4. Get over a toilet seat or keep a container ready in which you can drain urine.
  5. Get into a comfortable position.
  6. Gently lift the penis and hold it at an angle of 60 – 75 degrees.
  7. Slowly and smoothly insert the lubricated catheter into the urethra. Do not touch the part of catheter that enters inside.
  8. Continue sliding the catheter inside the urethra until urine starts flowing. This usually happens when the catheter is 6 to 8 inches inside the urethra.
  9. Sometimes, it gets hard to push the catheter just as it reaches the bladder. Do not panic as this is normal. Do not force but put some gentle pressure on the catheter so that it passes this point. Bearing down or coughing may help in passing this resistance point.
  10. Relax and allow the urine to drain from the bladder into a container or toilet.
  11. Slowly remove the catheter when urine stops flowing. Additional urine may drain while taking out the catheter.
  12. Clean any residue lubricant off from the penis. Pull the foreskin back into position if you are uncircumcised.
  13. Dispose the catheter and packaging properly.
  14. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Steps to Easy Female Catheterization

  1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Wash the genitals from front to back or use disposable wet wipes to cleanse them.
  3. If you are using a hydrophilic catheter, soak it according to the instructions of the manufacturer. For uncoated catheter, take some lubrication jelly and apply it to the first 3 inches of the catheter.
  4. Either get over a toilet seat or take a container in which you can drain the urine.
  5. Get into a comfortable position to perform the catheterization.
  6. Spread the labia with one hand and find the opening of the urethra. Using a mirror can help in finding the opening.
  7. With practice, you will be able to spot the opening by touch.
  8. Insert the lubricated catheter slowly into the urethra. Do not touch the part of the catheter that goes inside.
  9. Continue sliding the catheter until urine starts flowing. This usually happens when the catheter is about 3 inches inside the urethra.
  10. If you feel any resistance during insertion, apply some gentle pressure or cough or take some deep breaths to allow the catheter to pass.
  11. Allow the urine to flow from the bladder into a container or toilet.
  12. Remove the catheter when urine stops flowing. Additional urine may flow out while removing the catheter.
  13. Wipe front to back with a fresh cleansing cloth or toilet paper.
  14. Properly dispose of the catheter and packaging.
  15. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.

 

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