Different catheter sizes are determined by healthcare providers and play an essential part in the catheter health of patients who need to cath. 

Healthcare providers carefully size catheters and their related components to maintain each patient’s comfort and bladder health. Different catheter sizes determine a patient’s anatomical requirements, medical needs, and diagnoses.

This blog will look closely at different catheter sizes, why they’re essential, and what issues can arise from incorrect sizing.

Why Are Different Catheter Sizes Important?

Your doctor or healthcare provider will help determine the right catheter size. Every catheter patient requires different sizes, so it’s essential that sizing is selected correctly. If a catheter is too big, it can lead to increased pain or urethral damage. Alternatively, if a catheter is too small, it can lead to urine passing too slowly from the bladder to the collection bag.

Different Catheter Sizes For Insertion

Healthcare professionals and medical device suppliers measure catheters and their various components in critical ways. For insertion lengths, the sizing is a little more restricted but will vary between men, women, and children generally as follows:

  • Children: Can range from 10-12 inches in length
  • Men: Generally 16″ in length
  • Women: Usually shorter in length, between 6-8 inches due to shorter urethra

External Catheter Sizing

Male and female external catheters have different sizes because they are not placed internally inside the urethra. 

  • Female External Different Catheter Sizes: Female external catheters are generally much more accessible to size and are often “one size fits all.” Check with your physician or medical supplier for more information on the available female external catheters.
  • Male External Different Catheter Sizes: Condom catheters fit around the head of the penis and connect directly to the drainage tube and collection bag. To find your correct catheter size, measure the circumference of the head of the penis and then divide by 3.14. The resulting number from this calculation will allow healthcare providers and catheter users to correctly choose the size they need using the individual sizing guide provided by the catheter manufacturer. While sizes can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, they are all listed in millimeter size measurements. 

Different Catheter Sizes for Tubing

A “French” sizing system is used to determine the external diameter of the catheter tubing. Catheter French sizes are used universally and are calculated by multiplying the catheter diameter length by three. French catheter sizes are as follows:

  • 6 Fr
  • 8 Fr
  • 10 Fr
  • 12 Fr
  • 14 Fr
  • 16 Fr
  • 18 Fr
  • 20 Fr
  • 22 Fr

A universal color coding system is used to help healthcare providers and medical suppliers ensure the correct size is provided. Color coding can be essential when matching the catheter tubing up with the proper catheter funnel ends that connect to drainage bags.

So, why are urinary catheter French sizes so important? Correct tube sizing is critical for the following reasons: 

  • Catheter tubing that is too large can cause significant urethral pain.
  • Catheter tubing that is too small can lead to inadequate bladder drainage that takes too long to complete the emptying process.
  • Leakage can occur with catheter tubing that is too small
  • Trauma can occur due to catheter tubing that is too large

Different Sizes For Drainage Bags

Urine drainage bags come in different sizes to accommodate different lifestyles and drainage needs. The urine bags that are kept on the body are generally on the smaller side and can range in size as follows: 

  • 250ml
  • 350ml
  • 500ml
  • 600ml
  • 750ml
  • 1000ml

Drainage bags are used at night to collect more significant amounts while patients are asleep; these bags will generally range in capacity between 2000ml to 4000ml. 

Watch for These Symptoms

When using different catheter sizes or styles, you must immediately monitor for any symptoms and report them to your physician or healthcare provider. Some of these symptoms can include, but are not limited to: 

  • Bleeding around or inside the catheter
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Recurring bladder spasms
  • Sediment inside the catheter bag
  • Skin sores or lesions around the catheter
  • Strong-smelling, thick, or cloudy urine
  • Too little urine output
  • Urethral swelling
  • Urine leakage around the site of the catheter

Consulting with your healthcare provider at the earliest onset of these symptoms can help with further complications such as: 

  • Bladder cancer
  • Bladder stones
  • Blood in the urine
  • Blood infections
  • Injury to your urethra
  • Kidney damage
  • Kidney infections

It’s important to note that discussing catheter sizing with your physician is essential. Only you know what your comfort level feels like or if you are experiencing any pain. When sized correctly, catheters should be relatively comfortable daily. However, if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor regarding any other sizing options available to you.

How Active Life Medical Products Can Help With Catheter Supplies

You need a trusted catheter product supplier when you require catheter supplies. Active Life Medical Products makes ordering the entire catheter supply process easy. Our Product Specialists can help you get your prescribed catheter covered through most insurances. Everything will be delivered directly and discreetly to your front door.

Call Active Life Medical Products at (800) 319-2336 to place your order.