Intermittent Catheters

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What is an Intermittent Catheter?

An intermittent catheter is inserted when the bladder needs to be emptied, then removed. This is different from an indwelling or Foley catheter, which remains in place for a long period. Many people who cannot urinate on their own prefer an intermittent catheter to an indwelling one because they do not want to wear a leg bag to collect their urine. Intermittent catheterization may be used by men, women and children for a short time after various surgeries or for longer periods due to conditions like dementia or multiple sclerosis.

Types of Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheters are made from a variety of materials such as latex, vinyl, PVC, silicone, hydrophilic and polyurethane. Many are coated with lubricant or antimicrobial gel to make insertion more comfortable and reduce risk of infection. Open-system catheters are packaged individually and often come with a protective sleeve to avoid hand contact. Closed-system intermittent catheters, like the Advance Plus, are pre-lubricated and enclosed in a bag to avoid hand contact and reduce infection risk. Once the bladder is drained either into a collection bag or a toilet, most intermittent catheters are discarded. Find catheters for men, women and children of varying lengths from brands like SpeediCath and VaPro.

Choose by Tip Type

Intermittent catheters are often categorized by tip type. The four main tips are:

  • Straight: These are the most common type of intermittent catheter with an insertion tip that is straight. Find them in a variety of materials for men, women and children, and in both closed and open systems.
  • Coudé: These catheters have a slightly bent tip to allow insertion around blockages, like tumors or enlarged prostate glands. Find them mostly for male patients in a variety of materials in both open and closed systems.
  • Round: A round tip is very smooth for easy insertion. Because most patients are comfortable with straight tip intermittent catheters, round tip options are limited.
  • Whistle: Also known as luer-end catheters, these have no funnel on the drainage end. Instead, the end of the catheter tube is merely open. These are used less than other types and are therefore more difficult to find.