Some of the medical conditions that may require catheter use in an everyday or home setting include either urinary incontinence or retention (when you can't empty your bladder at will), surgery that affects the bladder, like a gynecological or prostate procedure, or a disabling illness like a spinal cord injury, MS or even dementia. For more information, visit the National Library of Medicine's urinary catheters page
. Another helpful site is UCLA's FAQ on catheter care
A few different types of catheters are available. The right one for you typically depends on the medical reason you need it.
There are three main types of catheters:
An indwelling catheter, like a Foley catheter, is inserted through the urethra, stays in place within your bladder and attaches to a drainage bag. It has a small balloon on the end of it that is inflated to keep it from sliding out; the balloon is deflated when you want to remove the catheter. The BARDIA Foley Insertion Kit with Catheter
comes with all needed components including inflation syringe, gloves and an underpad.
An intermittent catheter is used on a temporary basis, inserted through the urethra to the bladder to remove urine, but taken out after the flow of urine has stopped. Most are made of rubber or a clear plastic and, because they aren't left in, their design is more simplistic. These are often referred to as CISC (clean intermittent self-catheterization) catheters and are most often disposable. Because they are inserted as needed rather than left in place for longer periods of time, there is less chance of a bladder infection with their use. Many are made of materials specifically designed for the lowest possible amount of friction upon insertion. Cure Intermittent Straight Catheters
feature polished eyelets and funnel ends in appropriate sizes for either men or women.
A male external catheter was originally called a condom catheter, after the product that inspired early designs. An external catheter goes over the penis, is held in place with adhesive or another form of attachment and is connected to a drainage bag to collect urine. It needs to be changed daily. Unlike catheters that are inserted into the urethra and are primarily a thin tube, an external catheter comes in many different shapes. Some cover the entire penis while others are shorter. You can also choose from a variety of materials including latex, silicone and plastic; the more form fitting, the better for snugness to avoid leaks. Examples include the Gizmo Male External Catheter, a two piece male external catheter with single-sided adhesive strip that does not come in contact with skin and a soft latex-reinforced funnel end, the Everyday Male External Catheter
with an integral adhesive for secure attachment and four sizes to choose from and the Silicone Male External Catheter
for those who don't want a latex product.
Working with your doctor on proper sizing is crucial to achieve a comfortable placement on a traditional tubal or female catheter and to have a secure fit with no leakage when using a male external catheter. Usually, the smallest size possible is the best choice. When picking sizing for an external catheter, specific penis circumference measurements—29mm, 32mm, 36mm and 41mm—will offer a better fit than those offered in small, medium or large. You may need to try a few choices to find the best one. Foley and other internal catheters are measured using French sizes, measured in the 12-22 range.
A catheter is usually attached to a drainage bag and you'll want to choose the style that's best suited to your level of mobility. A leg bag is a smaller drainage device that attaches to the leg. It is usually worn during the day because it fits under clothing and can be easily emptied into a toilet. Depending on your circumstances, you may need two drainage bags so that you can use one while cleaning the other.
Larger devices are available for overnight use. This style of drainage bag must always stay lower than the bladder to prevent urine from flowing back upward. Kits like the Urinary Night Drainage Set include everything needed—tubing, 2-quart bottle, detergent and deodorant for cleaning and maintaining the drainage bag.