What is a Urinary Catheterization?

By  , Expert Content
Mar 02, 2012

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Urinary catheterisation is done to drain and collect urine from the urinary bladder. In this medical procedure, a thin flexible tube known as a catheter is passed through the urethra (the tube through which urine passes from bladder to the outside) to the bladder. In some cases, the catheter may be inserted through a hole in the abdomen in the bladder. The catheter is placed in the bladder, which allows urine to flow through it into a drainage bag.

What is it used for?

A urinary catheter may be inserted for a short or long-term basis. A catheter may be used to drain urine if you have:

  • Urinary incontinence (leaking urine or being unable to control when you urinate)
  • Urinary retention (being unable to empty your bladder when you need to)
  • To monitor urine output in sick patients in intensive care situation
  • To keep the patient dry and manageable during and after certain surgeries such as surgery  on the prostate or genitals, hysterectomy
  • Certain other medical problems such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury or dementia

Types of catheters

The three main types of catheters are:

  • Indwelling catheter
  • Condom catheter
  • Intermittent (short-term) catheter

Indwelling catheter: A urinary catheter, which is left in the bladder, is known as indwelling catheter. It may be inserted for a short  or a long time. When a catheter is needed for long time, some people prefer using an indwelling catheter as it is much more convenient and causes less pain as compared with intermittent catheterisation. If a catheter is required on a long-term basis, an intermittent catheter is preferable as with a long-term indwelling catheter, the risk of urinary tract infection increases considerably. A drainage bag is attached to the catheter to collect urine.

Intermittent catheter:
The process  by which the catheter is temporarily inserted into the bladder and removed after the bladder is empty is known as intermittent catheterisation.
Condom catheter: This type of catheter is most often used in elderly men with dementia. Instead of a tube placed inside the urethra, a condom-like device is placed over the penis. A tube is attached to the condom catheter, which drains into a drainage bag. It must be changed every day.



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