Understand the main urinary catheter types
There are a few catheter types, but they all help drain urine from your bladder. A number of conditions can lead to the need for urinary catheters, including recent surgery, trouble emptying your bladder or even a spinal cord injury. Your doctor may also use a catheter to measure your urine output.
It’s helpful to understand why a doctor chose a specific catheter. Medline Plus notes that three common catheter types are indwelling, condom and intermittent self-catheter.
1. Indwelling catheter
An indwelling catheter can be used to monitor the amount of urine your body creates to manage a condition or to help a patient after surgery. Unlike other types, indwelling catheters are meant to stay in place for a period. According to the Bladder and Bowel Foundation, this period of time could be short, such as after a surgery, or long term for people with significant urinary trouble.
Indwelling catheters use a thin tube inserted into the bladder to collect urine. They’re held in place with a small fluid-filled balloon, which keeps it from falling out of your bladder.
There are a couple of different approaches to indwelling catheterization: suprapubic and Foley. Suprapubic catheters are inserted into your bladder through a small hole in your belly, while Foley catheters reach your bladder through your urethra, notes healthtalk.org.
2. Condom catheter
If you’re a male who experiences urinary incontinence, your doctor might suggest a condom catheter. Condom catheters are rubber or latex sheaths that fit securely onto your penis and direct the flow of urine into a bag, according to Stanford University. You or a health care professional will regularly empty the bag into a toilet. The Ann Arbor Department of Veterans Affairs reports that these types of catheters can reduce the risk of urinary tract infection.
3. Intermittent self-catheterization
Men with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) may have trouble completely emptying their bladders. Many other conditions, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, varicella-zoster virus, trauma and kidney stones can cause urinary retention, according to the Association of American Family Physicians. When this happens, your doctor may suggest intermittent self-catheterization.
According to the University of Michigan, self-catheterization is a safe way to manually empty your bladder and can prevent urinary tract infections and relieve incontinence. Self-catheterization involves inserting a small tube into your urethra to drain urine from your bladder.
Unlike other types of catheterization, most can do intermittent self-catheterization on their own. While it may be difficult, it becomes easier with practice. The first few times, a health care professional can make you comfortable with the process.
When directed by your doctor, catheterization provides many benefits, including reduced risk of infection, relief from incontinence and independence. While catheterization can seem unnerving at first, understanding the different types of urinary catheters can put you in control of your medical care.
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