April 22, 2024

Urinary Catheters: An Introduction

A urinary catheter is a thin tube inserted into the bladder through the urethra to drain urine from the bladder. Catheters are commonly used when a patient is unable to pass urine normally due to surgery, injury, or other medical conditions. Use of catheters helps drained urine from the bladder and prevents urinary retention or overflow incontinence. Catheters come in different types depending on their intended use and duration. This article provides an overview of the different types of urinary catheters, their usage, and care considerations.

Types of Urinary Catheters

There are different types of urinary catheters classified based on their intended use and duration of use:

– Indwelling or Foley Catheter: As the name suggests, these catheters are designed to dwell or remain inside the bladder for an extended period. A deflated balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated with sterile water once inserted to securely anchor it inside the bladder. Indwelling catheters are generally used for drainage over several days when patients are immobile after surgery.

– Intermittent Catheters: These catheters are intended for intermittent use when needing to drain urine rather than remaining indwelling. They are commonly used by people with spinal cord injuries to manually drain urine several times a day. Intermittent catheters come in single-use sterile packages to prevent infections.

– External Catheters: Also called condom catheters, these look like a condom with a drainage tube attached. They are adhered securely to the penis and collect urine in a attached drainage bag without inserting anything inside the bladder. External catheters are useful for mobile patients and minimizes risk of infections.

– Pediatric Catheters: Specially designed narrow and smaller diameter catheters are available for urinary drainage in infants and small children. They come in different sizes suitable for young ages.

Common Uses of Urinary Catheters

Some common clinical situations where urinary catheters are routinely used include:

– After surgery: Patients are commonly catheterized after abdominal, pelvic or urologic surgeries to monitor urine output and prevent straining. It allows accurate monitoring of fluid balance.

– Mobility issues: Patients with limited mobility due to conditions like arthritis, fractures or post-surgical weakness rely on catheters for toilet assistance.

– Neurogenic bladder: Conditions affecting the nervous system like spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis or spina bifida often require catheterization due to poor bladder control.

– Monitoring outputs: Patients in intensive care units are catheterized to closely check urine volume hourly to monitor fluid balance, kidney function and monitor for acute renal injuries.

– Urinary retention: Whether due to illnesses, medications or an enlarged prostate, catheters are used to empty urine when a patient cannot pass urine normally.

– Palliative care: For patients nearing end of life, catheters provide dignified management of bodily functions and prevent discomfort.

Catheter Care and Infection Prevention

Catheter care is important to prevent infections and blockages. Some key aspects of catheter care include:

– Hands must be washed thoroughly before any catheter procedure. Sterile techniques must be followed during insertion or changes.

– Collecting bag should be kept below the bladder level and emptied regularly to prevent backflow and infections.

– Skin around genital area should be cleaned daily with mild soap and kept dry.

– Check for any leakage, blockages or balloon leak and report problems promptly.

– Use sterile single-use kits for intermittent catheterization and change indwelling catheters routinely as per doctors’ advice.

– Drink fluids adequately to flush and dilute urine unless restricted for medical reasons.

– Watch for any fever, pain, burning while urinating or urine discoloration indicating potential infections.

With proper usage and care, catheters provide effective urine drainage support. However, prolonged use increases infection risks. Close monitoring and following sterilization practices minimizes such risks. In case of any concerns, medical advice must be sought promptly.

In conclusion, urinary catheters are an essential medical device helping millions manage urinary problems and drainage needs effectively. From recovery after surgeries to lifelong management ofvarious medical conditions, catheters have significantly improved quality of life for many. With standard precautions and procedures, they can be safely and hygienically used to optimize patient care.

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it