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An Innovative Catheter Lubricant: Silicone Oil

Effective lubrication is essential in preventing urethral trauma and pain, which are one of the biggest concerns for people who self-catheterize. In the hope of preventing pain associated with urinary catheter, this article will introduce silicone oil as an innovative catheter lubricant—comparing it to the two other popular catheter lubricants: K-Y jelly and hydrophilic coating—to keep you informed on your options, so you can choose the most effective lubricant for yourself.  

First, why is effective lubrication so important? 

Intermittent catheter users need to catheterize 5-6 times a day on average, which involves inserting a foreign object into the bladder through the urethra. The urethra is a thin tube that acts as a pathway for urine to exit the body from the bladder, and it is easily irritated or injured by friction or force. 

Catheters that have not been sufficiently lubricated can create little tears along the urethra, causing urethral pain, a burning sensation during urination, and even bloody urine. 

In some cases, if the catheter is not lubricated enough and the person forces the catheter in, the catheter can create a false passage—penetrating out of the urethra wall and creating a new path. Therefore, it is important to apply sufficient lubrication and never force a catheter in. 

If you feel burning and pain after catheter removal or during insertion, consider if your catheter has been properly lubricated. 

Repeated occurrences of urethral trauma can lead to urethral strictures (narrowing of the urethra as a result of inflammation or urethral scarring), which can make catheterization difficult and leads to further injuries. Therefore, having proper lubrication is paramount in ensuring the safety and comfort of catheterization. 

Why Silicone Oil?

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) is a common complication of urinary catheterization and is caused by a bacterial, viral or fungal infection of the urinary tract system. Catheter-associated UTI occurs when one accidentally introduce an infectious agent from their hands, clothes, skin, or urethra opening onto the catheter. Then, the contaminated catheter is inserted into the urethra and bladder, causing a lower urinary tract infection. 

If untreated, the infection can travel up to the kidneys, causing a dangerous and potentially deadly kidney infection

Silicone oil has been found to have antimicrobial properties by multiple studies (studies 1, 2, 3). Antimicrobial means the ability to inhibit or destroy the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. 

The nontoxicity of silicone oil has also made it safe to be applied to medical equipment. 

When a catheter is encased in silicone oil by the manufacturer, the catheter is pre-lubricated, which means when you take the catheter out of the package, it is ready for direct insertion. The silicone oil stays on the catheter. It does not drip and is mess-free. 

How does silicone oil match up to other kinds of lubricants?

Other than silicone oil, the two other popular catheter lubricants are K-Y jelly and hydrophilic coatings. What are they and how do they match up to silicone oil? 

KY-Jelly

K-Y jelly is a water-based lubricant used by a majority of people who self-catheterize. When a catheter is not pre-lubricated, K-Y jelly is usually applied to it to avoid injuries and pain associated with urinary catheters. Although K-Y jelly is a good quality lubricant, it has a few flaws when it is used for catheterization. 

     1. It gets scraped off

When you insert a catheter lubricated with K-Y jelly, you may notice a lot of it gathering at the opening of the urethra. This is because the urethra is a narrow passage, which can scrape K-Y jelly off of the catheter during insertion. Since a lot of K-Y jelly cannot stick to the catheter as it is inserted deep into the urethra. It’s hard to ensure that the catheter is properly lubricated, especially the part that is deep inside the body. 

     2. It potentially increases the chance of catheter contamination

A common way for people to contaminate their sterile catheter is by touching it with their hands, clothes, or surrounding objects. A catheter that is not pre-lubricated requires you to lubricate it manually, which poses another risk for you to touch the catheter.  When a contaminated catheter enters the body, it is likely to cause a UTI.

Hydrophilic coating

The hydrophilic-coated catheter becomes slippery when it comes into contact with water. Users usually need to run the catheter under tap water, or break open a pouch of sterile water that comes with the packaging and let it soak the catheter. 

Because the hydrophilic-coated catheter has to be soaked in water before use, often the water would drip onto the user while they are self-catheterizing. 

Silicone Oil 

Having proper lubrication is extremely important in avoiding catheter pain and injuries. 

The silicone-oil-coated catheter comes ready to insert, so you can skip the extra step of applying K-Y jelly, and avoid the dripping mess that hydrophilic catheters usually make. It is hassle-free and poses less risk for catheter contamination. 

On top of it all, silicone oil is antimicrobial, nontoxic, and already used to treat medical and surgical equipment

If you want to try silicone-oil-coated catheters for free, check out CompactCath

CompactCath is the only catheter company on the market that uses silicone oil as a lubricant. CompactCath’s co-founders—Daniel Wei-Chen Hong and Naama Stauber Breckler—came up with this innovative catheter lubricant to solve the problems people faced when using K-Y jelly and hydrophilic catheters. 

CompactCath provides super-compact catheters that fit discreetly into your back pocket, purse, and carry-on luggage. Light and drip-free, whether you’re going into the office or on a trip to Europe, CompactCath fulfills your desire for privacy and adventure like no other.

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CompactCath LITE
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CompactCath classic

Emerged out of Stanford as the brainchild of a team of physicians, mechanical engineers, and MBAs, CompactCath is FDA-cleared in 2014, holds six patents, covered by CNN Money, won two grants (BioDesign Spectrum grant, LPCH Pediatric Innovation grant) and two iF product design awards (2016, 2017). 

Check out CompactCath and get a free sample! 

You can get free samples by clicking the button below. Try out CompactCath and CompactCath LITE, both of which come pre-lubricated with silicone oil. We carry both straight and coude tip, as well as sizes 12fr-16fr. 

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