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Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheters are thin, sterile tubes used for emptying the bladder in patients who are unable to do it properly on their own. Catheters can be inserted by a medical professional, but it's also possible to perform such a procedure independently at home.

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What Is an Intermittent Catheter?

An intermittent catheter is a thin tube that gets inserted into a bladder in order to empty it from the urine. This type of aid can be used in both adults and children for various types of issues, some of which include:

  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Bladder Blockage
  • Vesicoureteral Reflux
  • Spinal Cord Injury

A distinguishing feature of this system is the fact that, unlike Foley catheters that are meant for extended use, an intermittent catheter is removed after each emptying of the bladder.

For this reason, many prefer this solution, as it can limit the risk of urinary infections and offer more comfort in daily activities.

Types of Intermittent Catheters

You will often see intermittent catheters categorized by tip type. The two main tips are:

  • Straight - These are the most common type, featuring a straight, round tip for easier insertion into the urethra for individuals with a normal anatomical pathway to the bladder.
  • Coudé -These catheters have a curved tip that resembles a hockey stick. The curved design helps navigate the urethra's natural curve, which is particularly beneficial for males with an enlarged prostate or those who have experienced urethral blockage.

Intermittent Catheter Sizing

Naturally, catheters are available in different sizes. In order to know which catheter size is the right one for you, you should consult your physician.

The catheter needs to be long enough to reach the bladder comfortably. It’s also important to mind the diameter, which should be large enough to allow for complete bladder emptying.

Catheters use the French catheter scale starting from 3 F (1mm) and going up to 34 F (11.3mm).

A general guide for diameter based on gender:

  • Women - typically use 10 Fr to 12 Fr catheters
  • Men - typically use 14 Fr to 16 Fr catheters
  • Children - typically sizes range from 6 Fr to 12 Fr catheters

Always talk to a medical provider about the correct size and insertion method.

Benefits of Intermittent Catheters

What are some of the most crucial benefits of this type of catheter?

  • Greater independence and discretion - Intermittent catheters allow for more independence and discretion than other urinary drainage methods. People can catheterize themselves without assistance, and the catheters are small and portable, making them easy to use in a variety of settings.
  • Easier management - Compared to indwelling catheters that are left in place for extended periods, the management of intermittent catheters is easier for the caretaker and the patient.
  • Improved satisfaction - Patients who can take on themselves the catheterization procedure may feel a greater level of comfort and higher satisfaction from their medical care.

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