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Different Catheter Types

Different Catheter Types

Image of man smiling. Different catheter types are made to support the unique needs of each patient. Read on to learn more!

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

Urinary catheters are no different. In fact, you may find more variations in size and style in the catheter category than many other medical device categories; this is because it’s important that catheters work precisely with the user’s anatomy and medical needs. 

In this blog, we’ll give you an inside look into the different catheter types available to patients and identify key factors that differentiate one type from another. 

What Are Urinary Catheters?

When a patient is diagnosed as having a medical condition that requires bladder drainage support, physicians and urologists will prescribe urinary catheters. While there are different catheter types, they are essentially medical devices that are comprised of a hollow, thin tubing that drains fluid through your urethra from your bladder and 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:

  • Surgery
  • Enlarged prostate glands
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Spina bifida
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Certain medications
  • Injuries to the genital area
  • Labor
While any of the above mentioned medical conditions can lead to the need for urinary catheter use, the type of catheter prescribed is certain to vary. Below, we’ll take a look at the different catheter types, they subcategories that exist within each type, and why one may be prescribed or preferred over another.
Image showing a different catheter type, intermittent catheters.

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 is then discarded. 

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

  • Straight Catheters: This type of intermittent catheter features an insertion end on one side with two to four drainage eyelets, and a funnel on the other end for draining into a toilet or drainage bag. Straight catheters are unlubricated and must be coated with  lubricating jelly before use. Straight catheters are generally prescribed to both men and women who can self-cath and who are of less infection concern.
  • Closed System Catheters: This catheter type is consistently increasing in popularity due to its convenience of use. Closed system catheters come pre-lubricated and inside sterile collection bags; many users prefer this type of catheter because it’s considered essentially touch-free and allows for easy cathing practically anywhere.
  • Hydrophilic Catheters: This different catheter type is commonly prescribed to patients who self-cath and who are looking for a great mobile solution. Hydrophilic catheters are pre-lubricated and come individually packaged for easy and sterile use wherever you are.
Image showing a gloved hand holding a male catheter, or external catheter.

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External Catheters

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

  • 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. This different catheter type is often preferred by caregivers who are caring for patients who cannot cath themselves. Male external catheters do not present a high risk of infection due to them being used outside of the urethra, plus they can be less irritating to patient’s skin,
  • Female External Catheters: Female external catheters consist of a soft, flexible material that is placed between the buttocks and labia. The catheter helps draw urine away from the body and then deposits it into canister through the connected tube. 
Image showing a foley catheter.

Foley Catheters

Also known as superpubic catheters, Foley catheters are generally placed by nurses or other healthcare providers instead of by the patient themselves. This type of catheter is placed into the urethra, which has a water-filled tube at the end to keep the catheter in place; the catheter is connected to an external tube for draining into a bag or receptacle. Foley catheters can be used either short term or long term, but they must be watched closely as they can sometimes lead to higher infection probability.

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’s important that you 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. 

Active Life Medical Can Help with All Different Catheter Types

Active Life Medical’s team of customer service experts are here to answer any of your catheter questions and can walk you through the process of getting your supplies billed directly and accurately to your insurance. When medical necessary and prescribed by your physician, urinary catheters are covered by most insurances. 

Our customer service team strives to make the entire catheter process easy  and hassle-free by collecting necessary paperwork from your doctors, coordinating billing with your insurance, and delivering your necessary catheters discreetly right to the convenience of your doorstep. We’re familiar insurances nationwide and can help expertly guide you through getting the supplies you need covered by your insurance.

Plus, we have one of the largest selections of catheters in the industry and only work with top brands, guaranteeing that you’ll be able to obtain any different catheter types needed. We can answer any of the questions you have pertaining to different catheter types and ensure you get the catheter you need, fast. We’ll work with your physicians or care providers to ensure your catheter supply meets prescribed expectations while also delivering direct to you within a consistent and timely manner. 

Your in good hands with Active Life – Give us a call at 800-319-2336 today. Let us help get you get your catheter supplies covered and delivered, direct to your door.

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