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The Benefits of Closed System Catheters

The Benefits of Closed System Catheters

Image showing closed system catheter

Intermittent catheters are one of the most common forms of urinary catheters used by patients who self cath or who have caregivers assisting them with catheter insertion. Because intermittent catheters are used and thrown away multiple times each day, it becomes important for patients to have a method for easy use – this is where closed system catheters can help.

Closed system catheters are increasingly used by patients and caregivers to simplify and streamline the process of using urinary catheters. Below, we’ll take a look at closed system catheters, what differentiates them from other catheter styles, and what their features and benefits are.

What Are Urinary Catheters?


Thousands of men and women each day use urinary catheters to support their bladder health. Urinary catheters are used to resolve three primary physician diagnoses: urinary retention, urinary incontinence, and situations where urinating is unable to be controlled autonomously. While underlying medical conditions vary greatly, some of the most common diagnoses include, but are not limited to:

  • Urinary blood clots
  • Prostate gland enlargement
  • Certain cancers
  • Surgery
  • Bladder or nerve injury
  • Spinal injury
  • Impaired mental function or ability
  • Medicinal causes
When these and other medical conditions occur, urinary catheters can be used to effectively offer a good urine drainage solution.

Urinary catheters are hollow flexible tubes made out of silicone, rubber, or plastic that are used to connect the bladder to a drainage or urine collection bag. While sizes and styled can greatly vary, there are three main types of urinary catheters:

Intermittent Catheters: Intermittent catheters, or in-and-out catheters, are used when someone only requires bladder drainage assistance for a short period of time. These catheters are placed through an abdominal hole or through the urethra and removed as soon as no longer needed. Intermittent catheters can generally be easily placed by the patient themselves or by a caregiver. 

Indwelling Catheters: Indwelling catheters, or Foley catheters, are placed in a person’s bladder and used for extended periods of time. This type of catheter is placed by trained nurses or healthcare staff by going through the urethra and into the bladder. Then, a balloon filled with water helps keep the catheter in place and is promptly deflated when it’s time to empty the bag.


External Catheters: External catheters, which are sometimes referred to as condom catheters or female external catheters, are placed on the outside of the body and are generally used for assisting with bladder drainage in situations where mobility or cognitive issues are the primary medical conditions.

What Are Closed System Catheters?

Closed system catheters are being increasingly prescribed to and used by patients due to their improved safety and overall convenience. This type of catheter houses the entire pre-lubricated intermittent catheter inside its own collection bag. Following use, the catheter bag can then be quickly as easily emptied into a toilet or other receptacle.

This type of catheter system generally includes the following components:

  • A measured collection bag for urine collection
  • A pre-lubricated catheter
  • An introducer tip for inserting into the first few millimeters of the urethra
  • A catheter cap that covers the introducer tip
Image of woman in wheelchair with a blanket. Closed system catheters can support more independent living.

What Are the Benefits of Closed System Catheters?

When cathing is required as a daily necessity to support bladder health, closed system catheters can help to simplify the process or users. Some of the benefits users can experience by using closed system catheters can include:

  • Reduced Chance of Bacterial Infection: Because this catheter style is housed in its own collection bag and includes its own introducer tip, catheter users can reduce their chances of introducing too much bacteria during cathing. This, in turn, can help reduce the chance of catheter-related UTIs.
  • Easier Cathing On-the-Go: Closed system catheters feature everything you need to insert and drain your bladder all in one. Simply insert, drain your bladder, discard, and go!
  • More Comfortable Insertion: Many users feel that closed system catheters are more comfortable to insert because they usually come pre-lubricated with the right amount of lubrication.
  • Faster Cathing: With the reduction of catheter supplies to maintain and keep track of, users can enjoy a faster cathing process.
  • Supportive of More Independent Cathing: Many catheter patients who have ambulatory limitations or spinal cord injuries are switching to closed system catheters because they are often simpler to place, and some feature easy grips for more comfortable and effective insertion.
Image of woman in white sweater smiling.

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Using a Closed System Catheter Properly

As with the use of any catheter, it’s essential closed system catheters are used and placed with care to ensure continued bladder health. When placing this style of catheter, it’s important to:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after placement
  • Ensure your catheter insertion site is kept clean and sanitary on a daily basis
  • Use sterile gloves when possible to further reduce the chance of bacterial infection
  • Always check to ensure the catheter is properly lubricated prior to insertion

Potential Complications from Catheter Usage

It’s always important to keep an eye out for potential complications from using any catheter, including closed system catheters. Various issues can lead to further complications if ignored or mishandled. Watch for the following symptoms and if experienced, please make sure to contact your physician right away:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Pain
  • Skin sores or lesions around the catheter
  • Bleeding around or inside the catheter
  • Recurring bladder spasms
  • Sediment inside the catheter bag
  • Urethral swelling
  • Strong smelling, thick, or cloudy urine
  • Too little urine output
  • Urine leakage around the site of the catheter
It’s important that symptoms such as those listed above are reported quickly to healthcare professionals to prevent further or long-term damage. 

Are Closed System Catheters Covered by My Insurance?

Closed system catheters can be covered by most insurances nationwide when deemed medically necessary and prescribed by a physician. Active Life Medical’s team of customer service experts are standing by to answer any of your catheter questions and can help determine if your insurance will help cover the cost. Plus, we’ll handle all of the paperwork for you! We strive to make the entire process simple an convenient and will walk you through every step. Give us a call at 800-319-2336 today.

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