What are urinary catheters?

What are urinary catheters?

urinary catheters

Urinary catheters are a hollow, partially flexible tube created to collecting urine from the bladder and taking it to a drainage bag. They can be made of rubber, silicon or plastic, and are available in different sizes and types. Their use happens mostly in cases when someone is not able to empty their bladder.

When are urinary catheters used?      

They are suitable to be used in cases where someone can’t empty their bladder. So, these tubes are a medical necessity to stop the urine from building up in the bladder and creating pressure in the kidneys. If catheters are not used, then the pressure can lead to either permanent damage to kidney or its failure.   

Why are urinary catheters used?

  • Used in cases where the patient has lost control over when to urinate
  • Used in cases where the patient is having urinary incontinence
  • Used where someone has urinary retention

How long are catheters used?

  • The time period for use of catheters will depend on one’s ability to urinate on own
  • In most cases, the tubes are generally used for a short period of time 
  • Elderly people may need to use the tubes for either a longer period of time or for permanently
  • Those with some kind of injury may need to use the catheters permanently or for a longer period of time

Types of urinary catheters?

  1. Indwelling cathetersA type that resides in the bladder and fit for short and long periods of use. In general, it’s inserted into the bladder through urethra but in some cases, it’s inserted into the bladder through a small hole in the abdomen.   
  • External cathetersA type that is placed outside the body and fit in only those cases where someone has serious mental disabilities. They pose a lower risk of infections than indwelling catheters, deliver more comfort and can also be changed daily.      
  • Short-term cathetersAlso called as in-and-out catheters, they are fit for use for a short period after surgery till one empties the bladder. They are meant to be removed immediately after the bladder is emptied. People can get a little training and learn to apply this caterer in a home setting also.  
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Potential complications of urinary catheters

  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Allergic reaction to latex used in catheters
  • Septicaemia of the kidneys
  • Infection of the blood
  • Injury to the urethra
  • Bladder stones
  • Blood in the urine  

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