Glossary Entry: Catheter


Definition: A catheter is a thin tube made of medical-grade materials, such as silicone or latex, that is used to drain fluids from the body or to introduce fluids into the body. Catheters are commonly used in medical practice to assist with urinary drainage, administer medication, or monitor various physiological parameters.

Detailed Description

Types and Variations

Variations: There are multiple variations of catheters, including Foley catheters, suprapubic catheters, and intermittent catheters. Each variation is designed for specific applications, such as urinary retention, long-term drainage, or intermittent self-catheterization.


Common Uses: Catheters are commonly used in scenarios such as urinary incontinence, post-operative fluid drainage, urinary retention due to neurological conditions, and monitoring of urine output in critically ill patients.

Insertion and Placement

Procedure: The insertion and placement of a catheter require sterile technique and proper positioning of the patient. The specific insertion technique may vary depending on the type of catheter used, with procedures like the Seldinger technique being applicable to certain types.

Clinical Considerations

Potential Complications

Risks: Potential complications associated with catheter use include urinary tract infections, bladder spasms, and tissue trauma. Proper insertion and maintenance can help minimize these risks.

Care and Maintenance

Maintenance Requirements: Catheters require regular cleaning and emptying of drainage bags, as well as careful monitoring for signs of infection or blockage.

Additional Information

Related Devices

Associated Terms: Related devices and accessories include catheter drainage bags, sterile lubricants, and insertion trays.

Innovations and Advancements

Recent Developments: Recent advancements in catheter design focus on reducing infection risks, improving comfort for the patient, and enhancing ease of use for healthcare providers.

Regulatory and Safety Notes

Regulations: Regulatory considerations include proper training for healthcare staff, adherence to infection control protocols, and compliance with catheter insertion guidelines to prevent complications.