Can You Reuse an
Intermittent catheters?
Studies overview

Published 2021/09/16

FDA's study, current guidance
and regulation

Can you reuse intermittent catheters? Before answering the question, we might need to have a quick glance at the history of reusing single-use medical devices. Before the late 1970s, most medical devices were considered reusable for the reason of cost-saving. As time goes by, people are becoming more and more concerned about the risk of infection and injury from reusing medical devices.


Although some medical devices such as cardiac electrode catheters are considered to be safe for reuse, FDA has come to the conclusion that washing and reusing catheters under any circumstances is not acceptable. 


In one laboratory test using PVC urethral catheters, it was found that 67% of catheters that were considered “adequately sanitized” still tested positive for bacteria and pathogens. From this study, the FDA concluded that reusing catheters could lead to an increased risk of infection.

Health-related quality
of life: reusing catheters v.s.
single-use catheters

A Recent Study by D.Newman et al. in 2020 provides an investigation on the technique of multiple-reuse versus single-use catheterization and if catheter choice can have an impact on health-related quality of life (HRQoL). At the end of the study, around 83% of the participants preferred to continue using single-use hydrophilic catheters. Furthermore, all collected reused catheters were contaminated by debris and around 74% were contaminated by microorganisms, some with biofilm.

How about rigorous cleaning
and sterilizing?

One might argue that the result of the high contamination rate comes from poor cleaning and sterilizing techniques by the participants. However, research has shown that even catheters that are rigorously cleaned and sterilized in the laboratory, are still at risk of infection. 


In the study by Luijt DS’s et al., catheters had been purposely contaminated. These catheters were then sterilized, reused, and tested for residual viruses via cell cultures and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In the end, enterovirus was cultured from 10% of the catheters and 10% contained detectable adenovirus DNA. 


It’s not hard to imagine that catheters are cleaned thoroughly after use and reused again, let alone in household condition where ordinary sanitizers are the only available methods for users to clean their catheters.

The Risk of Reusing Catheters

Reusing catheters may not cause immediate risk fo life. However, reusing catheters may increase the risk of the following conditions:


  • UTIs (urinary tract infections)
  • Bladder infections
  • Kidney infections
  • Urethral damage or scar tissue build-up

The Short Answer

Despite that off-label reusing catheters is common in the United States and in several countries where local authorities have no unify regulation. The short answer is NO.  It’s also noteworthy that parties, no matter individuals or hospital or healthcare institution involved in it are potential targets of litigation.


 Reusing catheters may be economic at first glance, but. the risk and cost of contracting UTIs or other urological infections outweigh the initial savings. it is much safer and economic to use single-use catheters like CompactCath covered by insurance. For economic-minded users with no insurance coverage, our OneCath series offers affordable alternatives. 


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Newman DK, New PW, Heriseanu R, Petronis S, Håkansson J, Håkansson MÅ, Lee BB. Intermittent catheterization with single- or multiple-reuse catheters: clinical study on safety and impact on quality of life. Int Urol Nephrol. 2020 Aug;52(8):1443-1451. doi: 10.1007/s11255-020-02435-9. Epub 2020 Mar 14. PMID: 32172456.


Christison K, Walter M, Wyndaele JJM, Kennelly M, Kessler TM, Noonan VK, Fallah N, Krassioukov AV. Intermittent Catheterization: The Devil Is in the Details. J Neurotrauma. 2018 Apr 1;35(7):985-989. doi: 10.1089/neu.2017.5413. Epub 2018 Feb 1. PMID: 29108476; PMCID: PMC5865623.


Luijt DS, Schirm J, Savelkoul PH, Hoekstra A. Risk of infection by reprocessed and resterilized virus-contaminated catheters; an in-vitro study. Eur Heart J. 2001 Mar;22(5):378-84. doi: 10.1053/euhj.2000.2370. PMID: 11207079.


Larose E. Legal implications of single-use medical device reprocessing. Healthcare Quarterly. 2013;16(3):48–52.

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