What is a catheter?

A catheter is a thin tube that is made from a medical grade materials, serving various functions in medical field, from treating certain diseases to performing a surgical procedure. A catherer is used by inserting into the patient’s body. There are different types of catherers that are designed for particular medical tasks and they are characterised by the material and the way they are manufactured.

What is a catheter used?

A catherer can be inserted into a body cavity, duct, or vessel. The process of inserting a catheter is called catheterization. When in use, the catherer allows drainage, administration of fluids or gases in or out of the patient’s body.

A catheter when left inside the body is called indwelling catheter. And, it can stay there temporarily or permanently depending on the medical purposes.  A permanently inserted catheter can be referred to as a permcath.

A person may need to use a catherer if he:

  • Is not able to urinate on his own
  • Haslittle control over his urination
  • Has problems with this urinary health
  • Is hospitalized for surgeries
  • Isin a coma
  • Is sedated for long periods of time

An individual also needs a catheter if he:

  • Hasacute or chronic urinary retention
  • Is requirednot to make many movements (because of an injury or a surgery)
  • Needs to be monitored on his input and output of urine(he is a patient with kidney disease, for example)
  • Has beendiagnosed with a medical condition in which a catheter is used often. Some examples of these conditions include spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and dementia.

Types of catherers and how they work

With an insered catheter, a patient drain urine from his bladder effortlessly, without having to use muscles. The urine just freely leaves the bladder and flows down a tube connected to the catheter then enters a urine collection bag.

Being inserted with a catherer may make the patient feel uncomfortable, but not so painful. He may experience mild pain during the insertion and removal of the device but a topical anesthetic can help.

A catherer should be inserted into the patient’s body in a totally sterile procedure to avoid risk of infection. There are 3 types of catheters, including indwelling catheter, condom catheter, and intermittent catheter.

Indwelling catheters (urethral or suprapubic catheters)

An indwelling catheter refers to a catheter that resides in the bladder. Indwelling catheters can be used for short and long periods of time.

An indwelling catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra, or a tiny hole in the abdomen. To keep the tube from sliding out of the body, a tiny balloon inflated with water is put at the end of the catheter. When the doctor needs to remove the catherer, he just simply deflates that baloon. This type of indwelling catheter is known as a suprapubic catheter.

Condom catheters (External catheters)

A condom catheter is also known as an external catheter. As the name suggests, this type of catherer is placed outside the body, and is in condom-shaped, covering the patient’s penis head. There is a small tube in the device that allow urine to go out. A condom catheter needs to be changed daily if it is not designed for longer use.

Condom catheters are necessary for men who don’t have urinary retention problems but have serious functional or mental disabilities, such as dementia.

Compared to indwelling catheters, condom catheters are more comfortable and have lower risk of infection. However, they cause more skin irritation because of the required daily removal and reapplication.

Intermittent catheters (Short-term catheters)

An intermittent catheter is suitable for a patient whose bladder temporarily can not empty itself properly, usually due to surgery. Once the bladder comes back with full functioning, the catherer will be removed.

The intermittent catheterization can be done through the urethra or through a hole created in the lower abdomen. With proper training, in a home setting, caregivers can apply the catheter for the patients; or the patients can even apply it themselves.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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