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What are the different types of catheters?

A catheter is a hollow tube that allows fluid to move from one place to another, ranging in many different catheter types and sizes. Generally, they are used to drain the bladder but there are other uses such as an intravenous catheter that permits fluids to enter the bloodstream, often for the purpose of infusing medications. Catheters can be used to drain almost any body cavity that has excess fluid build-up. They can be used to either diagnose or treat a problem such as urinary retention. Sometimes people urinate but leave some urine in the bladder. In those cases, a catheter is inserted to see how much is still left.  

Indwelling Catheters

A flexible medical grade rubber or plastic tube inserted into the bladder that remains there to provide continuous urinary drainage. During surgery, they are commonly used to measure urine output. Urine output and color measure overall hydration. The clearer the urine, the better hydrated the person is. 

External Catheters

Used by men to treat urinary incontinence. This type of catheter consists of a flexible sheath that slides over the penis just like a condom with a tube connected to a bag. Many men find this style to be a great alternative to more invasive catheters, such as indwelling catheters that require insertion through the urethra. They are a good alternative if a man can urinate on their own or in case there is spontaneous leakage or incontinence. If the person cannot urinate on their own, then this would not work. 

Intermittent Catheters (rigid or flexible)

These catheters are used for a short duration to empty the bladder by insertion and removal after the bladder is empty. They are used several times a day to empty the bladder.

What are the different types of sizes? 

Catheter French Scale

French sizes for catheters

1 “French” or “Fr” is equivalent to 0.33 mm = .013″ = 1/77″ in diameter. The size in French units is roughly equal to the circumference of the catheter in millimeters. French catheters are color-coded. 20 French is a yellow catheter. A 14 to 16 French is used on most adults. Children use 3-12 French. If blood clots are present in the bladder, then a 22 french might be needed.

The length for children’s catheters depends on whether it is a boy or girl. Women need 6-8 inches while boys and men need longer ones to account for the length of the penis. The length is less important than the circumference. The bigger the circumference, the more discomfort with insertion. 

Try CompactCath Catheters!

CompactCath Catheter

While there are many different catheter types and sizes, many have found our intermittent catheters work best for them! Available in a variety of sizes (10-16FR), CompactCath is not only portable, but also easy to use. It’s made out of state-of-the-art PVC plastic that will not kink when coiled. It also comes pre-lubricated, so the hassle and mess of lubrication is not even a concern. Finally, CompactCath comes with funnel-control, leading to minimal urine spill and mess, all while fitting in your pocket. 

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