The different catheter types available can seem endless. You’ll find multiple variations of practically everything in the medical device industry. From wheelchairs to walkers, incontinence supplies to hospital beds, and wound care to patient lifts, almost every size and shape you can think of exists to support the extensively different needs of each patient.

Urinary catheters are no different. You may find more variations in size and style in the catheter category than in many other medical device categories; catheters must work precisely with the user’s anatomy and medical needs. 

This blog will give you an inside look into the different catheter types available to patients and identify critical factors that differentiate one type from another. 

What Are Urinary Catheters?

Physicians and urologists will prescribe urinary catheters when a patient is diagnosed with a medical condition requiring bladder drainage support. While there are different catheter types, they are essentially medical devices comprised of hollow, thin tubing that drains the fluid through your urethra from your bladder into a drainage device.

So, why are patients prescribed urinary catheters? While the underlying medical conditions vary greatly, the issues catheters are resolving are urinary incontinence, urinary retention, and uncontrollable bladder issues. Some of the underlying conditions that may cause these medical diagnoses can include but are not limited to:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Certain medications
  • Dementia
  • Enlarged prostate glands
  • Injuries to the genital area
  • Labor
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Surgery

While any of the above-mentioned medical conditions can lead to the need for urinary catheter use, the type of catheter prescribed is sure to vary. Below, we’ll look at the different catheter types, the subcategories within each class, and why one may be named or preferred over another.

Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheters, also known as short-term or “in and out” catheters, are one of the original different catheter types. This catheter type is inserted, drains the bladder through tubing into a toilet or other receptacle, and then discarded. 

There are three different catheter types for intermittent catheterization, which include:

  • Closed System Catheters: This catheter type is consistently increasing in popularity due to its convenience. Closed system catheters come pre-lubricated and inside sterile collection bags; many users prefer this type of catheter because it’s essentially touch-free and allows easy cathing anywhere.
  • Hydrophilic Catheters: Prescribed for patients who self-cath and are looking for a great mobile solution. Hydrophilic catheters are pre-lubricated and individually packaged for easy and sterile use wherever you are.
  • Straight Catheters: This intermittent non-lubricated catheter features an insertion end on one side with two to four drainage eyelets and a funnel on the other for draining into a toilet or drainage bag. Both men and women can use straight catheters if they can self-cath and are less concerned about infection.

External Catheters

External catheters are more non-invasive versions of urinary catheters that both men and women can use.

  • Female External Catheters: External catheters consist of soft, flexible material between the buttocks and labia. The catheter helps draw urine away from the body and deposits it into a canister through the connected tube.
  • Male External Catheters: Male external catheters, or condom catheters, are placed over the head of the penis and connected by a tube to a urine drainage bag. Caregivers who care for patients who cannot catheter themselves prefer this type of catheter. In addition to being less irritating to the patient’s skin due to being used outside the urethra, male external catheters do not present a high infection risk.

Foley Catheters

Also known as superpubic catheters, Foley catheters are generally placed by nurses or other healthcare providers instead of by the patient themselves. An infection-preventive lubricated catheter is inserted through the sanitized urethra into the bladder. A syringe is then used to inflate the balloon, in the bladder, with water to keep it in place. Finally, the drainage bag is connected to the catheter tube; and hooked to a hospital bed, wheelchair, or taped to the patient’s leg. Even though Foley catheters can be used short-term or long-term, they need to be closely monitored since they can sometimes result in a higher infection risk.

What Catheter Type Should I Use?

Your physician will help you determine the catheter size, tubing length, and catheter tip (straight or coudé) that works best for your anatomy and medical needs. However, it would be best to discuss your preferences and concerns with them closely. As the user, you can best determine what different catheter type is the most comfortable for you and the most in-tune with your daily lifestyle. 

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.