A catheter is a clean, hollow tube used to collect urine from the bladder. It is introduced into the bladder through a process of urinary catheterization. Catheters give people with bladder problems control over their bladder. Catheters are made of plastic (PVC), rubber, latex or silicone. There are factors to consider before a person opts for urinary catheterization, as different catheters have different functions, and misuse may lead to complications. These factors include:
1. Type of catheter
There are three main types of catheters. These are:
- External catheters: These are situated outside the body. A condom-like device is placed at the tip of the penis and connected through a tube to a collecting bag. People who are unable to control their bladder due to functionality disabilities use an external catheter. It is a comfortable type of catheter and does not carry risks of infections or kidney damage.
- Short-term catheters: These are used for a short period and are mostly used by patients who have undergone surgery. The catheter is inserted into the urethra and into the bladder to drain urine. It also carries a low risk of infection and kidney damage as it is emptied regularly.
- Indwelling catheter: This type of catheter is inserted into the urethra, into the bladder and is held there. There are two emptying options; a drainage bag or a valve that is emptied when the bladder is full. People with permanent bladder disabilities mostly use this option. An indwelling catheter carries the highest risk of infection and kidney damage. It should, however, be used as a last resort if other types do not work, as stated by NCBI.
It is important to consider lifestyle factors when choosing your catheter. If you can walk and go about day-to-day activities regularly, you should use a catheter that is discreet and comfortable and still functions effectively. You should also take into account the intended use of the catheter. An intermittent catheter is used to empty the bladder during procedures such as surgery and is fairly easy to use, whereas, a condom catheter may be used by someone who has lost control of their bladder.
Catheters are made using different materials. It is prudent to consider the various effects the materials may have on different people. Many people are allergic to rubber, latex and even silicone; the same materials used in making catheters. It is, therefore, important to know which material you are not allergic to before getting one.
Overall factors such as size, shape, and design may be taken into account too, but the main factors to consider are the ones listed above.