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Everything You Need To Know About Catheters

By , Staff Editor

Last Updated on March 6th, 2023 / Published on February 27, 2018

Everything You Need To Know About Catheters

The human body, though quite intricate, is susceptible to a variety of ailments that can render us helpless in performing even the easiest of our everyday tasks. When an individual suffers from urinary incontinence (leakage), prostate problems, urinary retention (not being able to urinate), or has to undergo surgery; catheters are used to help the individual perform this vital function.

What are catheters?
Catheters or urinary catheters are hollow, partially flexible tube which collects urine from the bladder which leads it to the drainage bag. Catheters are usually used when the individual cannot empty his bladder on his own. If the urine doesn’t exit from the body, the urine build-up can exert more pressure on the kidneys, which can have serious repercussions such as kidney damage or kidney failure. These catheters are available in different sizes and types and are made of rubber, silicone, or plastic (PVC).

Catheters are used till the individual can regain the ability to urinate on their own. Catheters are used by people who have sustained permanent injury or undergone surgery. Also, older adults whose mobility is affected or cannot urinate on their own owing to a medical condition use catheters.

An individual’s ability to urinate on their own is affected due to the following reasons-

  • Urinary retention
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Surgery on the prostate gland
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Blockage of urine flow due to bladder or kidney stones, enlarged prostate gland, or blood clots in the urine
  • Dementia
  • Spina Bifida

What are the different types of catheters for men?
The doctor would advise the individual to opt for a catheter if he faces either of the health conditions mentioned above. There are three main types of catheters available. They are external catheters, indwelling catheters, and short-term catheters. The physician would advise you to opt for a certain catheter depending upon the severity of the condition.

External catheter (condom catheter)
This condom catheter or external catheter as the name suggests is placed outside the body. This catheter resembles a condom and covers the penis head. A tube leads from the condom device into the drainage bag where the urine from the bladder is collected. The external catheter or condom catheter is used by men who have urinary retention problems but is mostly used for people who have serious functional or mental disabilities, such as dementia.
External catheters are considered to be quite comfortable and aren’t very risky, i.e., the chances are quite thin that the individual might contract an infection due to the use of the catheter. The condom catheter is to be changed on a daily basis, but these days, the manufacturers are developing condom catheters meant for longer use. Since such catheters do not require frequent changing, it causes less skin irritation than the ones which have to be changed daily.

Indwelling catheters (urethral or suprapubic catheters)
As the name suggests, this catheter is placed inside the body contrary to the external catheters. The indwelling catheters reside in the bladder and are effective for short-term and long-term uses.
One cannot use the indwelling catheter without medical assistance. The nurse would insert the indwelling catheter into the bladder from the urethra. Such indwelling catheters are known as urethral catheters. When the healthcare personnel inserts the catheter through the tiny hole in the abdomen into the bladder, the catheter is known as a suprapubic catheter. Also, a tiny balloon is inflated with water and placed at the end of the catheter to prevent the tube from sliding out of the body. The balloon has to be deflated if the catheter needs to be removed.

Short-term catheters (intermittent catheters)
The short-term catheters, as the name suggests, are used only for a short duration till the bladder empties. These intermittent catheters are commonly used during surgery until the bladder is empty. Since these are short-term catheters, they need to be removed immediately after the bladder is empty to avoid infections or other complications.
The intermittent catheters, also known as ‘in and out’ catheters are meant for single use, and shouldn’t be reused since it would increase the chances of contracting infections. The short-term catheters are of three types- straight catheters, hydrophilic catheters, and closed system catheters.

Adverse effects of using catheters
Though catheters perform a pivotal job of emptying the bladder when the individual cannot urinate by himself, it poses serious health risks if it isn’t handled with care. Usually, it is the indwelling catheters that can cause infections. The complications that arise due to the use of catheters are as follows-

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Allergic reaction to the material the catheter is made of, especially if it is made of latex
  • Bladder stones
  • Kidney damage
  • Injury to the urethra
  • Presence of blood in urine

Catheters are life-savers when it comes to preventing major health issues that arise when the bladder cannot be emptied. However, one can avoid the health complications that arise due to the use of catheters if they follow the instructions carefully, for instance, the catheters meant for single use shouldn’t be reused, or indwelling catheters should be cleaned and sanitized at regular intervals.

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Written By
Catherine M

Staff Editor
Written By

Staff Editor
  • Catherine is an experienced and passionate wellness expert with a focus on food and nutrition, fitness, sexual and women's wellness. She is leading the editorial strategy for HealthAccess and ensures that our content meets highest quality standards as per our editorial guidelines
  • In addition to her professional work, she is an avid fitness enthusiast and loves to cook healthy meals in her spare time.

The content provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Read More.

Join our community of health and wellness enthusiasts today !!

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