The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Catheters
Posted by Jeanne Lowry on Aug 8th 2022
Even though catheters aren’t a fun topic for many people, there are times in which a person will need to use one, whether it’ll only be temporary or long-term. When that happens, they’ll need to know which type of catheter best fits their needs. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide. Nothing is worse than going into this situation blind, so we want you to know as much as possible about these products before deciding which one to use.
The most common type of catheter is the intermittent catheter. The reason for this is that this option is suitable for short-term use. Most people who need catheters don’t need them long-term. Once the injury or difficulty clears up, you won’t need the catheter anymore.
But what makes these so great for short-term use? Well, the answer is quite simple—intermittent catheters are fairly easy to insert and remove and are very safe to use on your own. Once you have some practice with them, you’ll be able to handle them without any assistance.
Fortunately, you’ll get plenty of practice using these catheters early on. This is because you’ll need to remove it multiple times a day to drain it. While this might sound like a hassle on paper, it makes it much easier for users to go about their daily lives without any significant interruptions. Plus, the fact that you’ll need to take it out and put it back in often will make you less likely to get an infection from the device.
Due to their popularity, there are a few different kinds of intermittent catheters, depending on your needs. The following three entries will all be various forms of intermittent catheters.
Straight Tip Catheters
Let’s start the list of intermittent catheters off with one of the more straightforward choices. Straight tips are pretty much what their name implies. They are perfectly straight catheters made of very flexible material, which allows them to move through a person’s urethra easily. This is one of the most popular types since they’re adaptable due to their bendability and variety of lengths.
As long as you don’t have any obstructed pathways in your urethra, you’ll be able to use this variation of a catheter with no issues. All you have to do is make sure to fully lubricate it before insertion since pre-lubricated straight tip catheters don’t exist. Forgetting this step will make insertion much more painful and difficult.
Coudé Tip Catheters
Of course, if there is a catheter that is 100 percent straight, one could assume that there would be a curved version too. These are known as Coudé tip catheters. The entire device isn’t arched, though. Most of the catheter is straight, but the end of it bends at an angle. The reason for this bend is to bypass certain obstructions like an enlarged prostate or possible scar tissue.
Since blockages can come in various forms, two different types of catheters are used to get past them. The first is the Coudé olive tip variation. The bend at the front of this variant has a small bulb at the end. This allows for easier navigation past large obstructions.
The other kind is known as the Coudé Tiemann tip catheter. This option is longer and thinner than most catheters. It’s also quite flexible, making it perfect for passing through small openings that the olive tip can’t fit through. Regardless of which one you get, these are also not pre-lubricated, so you’ll need to do that yourself.
Closed System Catheters
The last intermittent catheter is the closed system version. Even though you’re less likely to get an infection from an intermittent catheter, it’s still not impossible. That means if you want to further reduce your chances, you need to use a closed system catheter.
These self-contained kits are pre-lubricated, unlike the previous two intermittent variations, and they have their own collection bag already attached. That means everything is ready to go upon opening the package. Not needing to touch the catheter excessively will greatly reduce the chances of infection even further. The added bag also makes emptying the catheter on the go even easier, especially for those with limited mobility.
For one reason or another, some people have trouble inserting a catheter into their urethra themselves. This is a very understandable problem, whether it’s due to a personal disability or simply having trouble with the insertable kinds in the past. Either way, external catheters might be the solution you’re looking for. Male users will need a condom-based catheter, while female users will need a urethral insert.
Condom catheters are fairly straightforward. You put the device on and remove it the same way as a normal condom and drain the bag whenever it fills. Urethral inserts are a bit more complicated, but not by much. All you must do is put it into the opening of the urethra, and it will seal up. Some women might need their doctor to create a custom mold if the standard version doesn’t fit properly.
While these might seem like the best choice for ease of use, medical professionals usually don’t recommend these options. They’re not nearly as effective as insertable catheters and have the potential to leak unexpectedly.
As you age, the possibility of a catheter needing to become permanent increases. That means you’ll need an option intended to stay in for prolonged periods of time. Indwelling catheters, also known as Foley catheters, are perfect for this.
They reside within your bladder and remain in place with a water-filled balloon that attaches to the end. Whether you have these catheters inserted through the urethra or a small insertion in your abdomen, you can only have them removed after deflating this balloon. Due to the complexity of this process, only a medical professional can remove or insert this kind of catheter. However, they’re a much better solution for long-term usage.
Now that you’ve read through this guide and better understand the different types of catheters and how they work, it’s time to decide which type suits your needs. You’ll want to consult with your doctor before choosing one, but going into that conversation with some prior knowledge will help ensure that you go with the best fit. Regardless of which one you go with, though, My Care Supplies will be the best place to buy your device. We have a full list of catheter products for you to browse, and we’re confident that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.