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Catheter French Sizes

by Jessica February 24 2014 15:10
urinary intermittent catheter french sizes blog header

Determining the right size of intermittent catheter to use can greatly increase the efficiency and comfort of your self-catheterization routine. But how does one choose the correct size to fit their individual needs? Read on to find out more!

French Sizes

All internal catheters, both foleys and intermittent styles, are sized by a universal gauge system which is referred to as a "French size." This is based upon the measure of the external diameter of the tube. 

The way the size is determined is a simple multiplication of 3 (diameters in millimeters multiplied by 3 = the French size). So, if a catheter has a diameter of 4.7 millimeters, the French (Fr) size is 14. 

Catheter Funnel Colors

Most vinyl and silicone intermittent catheters with funnels use a universal color coding system to help you determine what French size a catheter is. See the below chart for the most common French sizes along with their corresponding funnel color codes. 

Catheter funnel colors

Getting the Right Size

Why is determining the French size such an important part of selecting the right catheter for your needs? Efficiency and comfort are both important elements in the self-catheterization process. If you use a urinary catheter with too large of a diameter for your urethra, cathing can be more difficult and even painful. If it's far too large, you will not be able to insert it at all.

On the other hand, if you use a French size that is too small, you may find that the overall pace of draining your bladder will go much slower. On top of that, if you use a catheter smaller than your urethra, urine released from the bladder will not only escape through the catheter tube but could also go around it, which can get pretty messy, as the flow will be harder to control. 

Luckily, there is a wide range of sizes all the way from pediatric sizes (for children) to larger French sizes, typically for adults. That way, you and your doctor can select the right size for you!

There are also varying lengths to accommodate for the different urethral lengths between genders and ages:
  • Pediatric (typically around 10 inches)
  • Female (6-8 inches)
  • Male/Unisex: (16 inches)

How Do You Find the Catheter That's Right for You?

To determine the right size of catheter for your individual needs, please be sure to consult with your prescribing healthcare professional, so that you can get a hassle-free experience with your intermittent catheters every time. 

Contact 180 Medical during our business hours by Live Chat or giving us a call at 1-877-688-2729 to speak to one of our trained, friendly specialists. We are happy to find the right catheter for your needs, and we can also verify your insurance for you to determine your catheter coverage. 

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About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 4 years and currently holds the title of Purchasing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.

Things Your Child Should Know About Self-Catheterization

by Catheter Experts February 21 2014 14:50

If your child has a condition that requires intermittent catheterization, there will come a point in time when they may need to learn how to self-cath in order to gain some independence. Your occupational therapist and/or doctor will test your child to see if they're ready to start cathing on their own. In general, they'll most likely examine their hand skills, vision, and ability to follow directions. Additionally, they will ask your child to do it themselves while in the presence of a nurse or doctor to make sure they are doing it correctly. If all goes well, your child can start cathing all on their own now!

Here are a few helpful tips for any young person new to self-catheterization:

  • Have your supplies ready to go. The first step in self-cathing is having the right equipment and supplies. Depending on the type of intermittent catheter you will be using, you may need some additional supplies on hand, such as lubricant, clean water source and soap or antiseptic wipes, sterile gloves, etc. If you are not nearby a toilet, you will also need a container to store your urine until you can dispose of it. A closed system catheter or a catheter with an insertion supplies kit are both great options to keep your cathing experience sterile, discreet, and convenient, no matter where you travel. For your little ones who are heading off to school on their own, having an all-in-one kit can make a big difference.

  • Keep the process as hygienic and sterile as possible. As discussed above, it's helpful to use supplies that are discreet and convenient and play a big role in keeping your self-catheterization experience hygienic. Washing your hands with soap and water before cathing and wearing sterile gloves can go far in helping to reduce the risk of infection. Using a "touchless" closed system catheter with an insertion tip can also greatly reduce the risk of recurrence of UTIs. Give us a call to discuss your product options!

  • Watch out for the signs and symptoms of UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections). Especially when you first start cathing and are still learning the process of how to properly cath, it's important to keep an eye out for any symptoms of UTIs. Be sure to only use your catheters once and then dispose of them. If there is any pain, burning, consistent urge to void, blood in urine, or if you've experiencing a fever, contact your doctor.

  • Relax. It might be worrisome or even a stressful idea for some that self-cathing will be a part of one's daily life, but just know that it does get easier with time. You might be surprised to know just how many people, even people you know, self-cath every day. Remember that if you're tense, it may be tougher to insert your catheter. Parents, you can take a helpful role by easing your child's fears by talking to them about cathing. Teach them to relax through various breathing techniques. Sometimes coughing can help loosen the muscles to allow an easier insertion. Remember, if you run into any pain or difficulty with inserting the catheter, don't force it. Just call your doctor, and they can advise you best on what to do.

  • Join 180 Medical's Kids Club. The 180 Medical Kids Club was created to ease the fears of families just like yours that have been told your child needs to catheterize. We'll help you and your child adjust to this new way of life with one-of-a-kind educational materials and fun activities for your child. It's as simple as a quick sign-up online!

In addition, we recommend looking into our 180 Medical How To Cath DVDs, as well as our online cathing instructions

Contact us today to learn more about our resources available for your child!

What Do the Symbols on My Catheter Package Mean?

by Jessica February 12 2014 13:11
Whether you're brand new or a seasoned pro at self-cathing or using ostomy supplies, you probably come in contact with your medical supplies on a regular basis. At some point, you may have looked at the packaging on your catheter supplies to see symbols and numbers.

Do all those unrecognizable symbols on the package make you feel like you're in the dark? 180 Medical can shed light on this situation for you! We love to offer education when and where we can.

When you speak with one of our caring specialists about the best way to prevent a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), they will discuss what is called sterile or single use (for more on that topic, see our article "5 Ways to Help Reduce UTIs"), and then they may ask you to take a look at your catheter package to find a symbol of a number 2 with a line crossed through it. That symbol means "do not reuse," which indicates the FDA's guidelines that all intermittent catheters are considered sterile-use devices that should be used once and then disposed of.

Depending upon the brand and type of supply, packaging can vary in color, size, length, and shape. But you can always depend on knowing that the symbols are there, because they are regulated by the FDA.

Here are a few of the most common symbols:
 Symbol for "Do not reuse." Single or sterile use only.
   Manufacturer's lot number or batch code. They symbol will be right next to a set of numbers indicating the number of the batch in which this particular supply was produced.
      Indicates the product's reference or item number. Your 180 Medical specialist may ask you to find this number to determine what item you have on hand.
       Manufacturer. This picture will be next to the name and address of the manufacturer.
   Date of manufacture. Next to this symbol, you will see a date with 4 digits indicating the year and 2 following digits indicating the month that this product was produced/manufactured in (YYYY-MM).
  Use By. Next to this small hourglass symbol, you will see the expiration date with 4 digits indicating the year and 2 following digits indicating the month (YYYY-MM).
    By prescription only. U.S. Federal Law restricts this device to sale on order of a physician only.
   Method of sterilization by Ethylene Oxide.
   Method of sterilization using irradiation.
   Method of sterilization using dry heat or steam.
   Not sterilized. You may see this on products such as non-sterile gloves.
   Instructions are available to read or consult.

As always, if you ever have a question about this or anything else regarding your supplies or service with 180 Medical, please feel free to give us a call!

Source for regulated symbols:

About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for almost 5 years and currently holds the title of Purchasing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company! She loves writing, art, music, and spending time with friends and family.

Tips On Holiday Traveling With Catheters

by Jessica December 20 2013 03:22

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  And with the holidays fast approaching, many of you may have a trip scheduled to visit family, friends, and other loved ones. For those of you who self-catheterize or are a caretaker for someone who must use intermittent catheters, you may have some concerns about the journey ahead – whether by plane, train, or automobile!

We here at 180 Medical want to offer you some tips for your holiday travels!

Flying? Be prepared for TSA security screenings.
  • Remember the 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage. If you are carrying a separate lubricant, sterile water/saline, or disinfectant, it is safe to bring aboard the airplane as long as it is 3.4 oz or less in volume. It must fit in 1 quart-sized clear plastic zip-top baggie. Only one bag per passenger is allowed.
  • If you are bringing catheters in your carry-on luggage, any lubricant, sterile water packets, etc., will need to be included in the quart-size baggie.
  • If you’re scheduled for a longer trip, it may be best to put larger volumes of liquids in your checked luggage.

Keep adequate stock on hand.
  • Before you head out on your trip, you’ll want to make sure to pack enough catheters and any other related supplies with you in your luggage to last throughout the trip at the very least. It may be advisable to include a few extras in case of any emergency or any unexpected delays due to the weather, etc.
  • If you’re planning on an extended stay at your destination, consider shipping your supplies there instead of checking them in your luggage. This not only frees up space in your suitcase for clothes, presents, souvenirs, or other personal items, but you can also make sure you have the supplies when you need them -- no need to worry about your luggage getting lost or delayed. If you know in advance where you’ll be staying, you can even request your next order from 180 Medical to be shipped to your destination’s address (in the U.S.A.).

Talk to a 180 Medical Product Specialist about trying out a travel-ready catheter.
  • When you’re traveling, you’re making a lot of stops in public restrooms, hotel rooms, etc., and a sterile environment just isn’t a guarantee! Consider trying an intermittent catheter that is specifically designed to be “touch-free” and travel-ready, like a closed-system or a pre-lubricated catheter (depending what your insurance covers).  Often these catheters also include insertion supplies like antiseptic wipes and gloves to further reduce risk of UTIs. Give us a call today to discuss your options with a one of 180’s trained specialists at 877-688-2729.
  • For personal tips on airline travel from 180 Medical employee, Bill, check out his article from earlier this year. Bill has been using catheters for over 20 years and has plenty of experience traveling as a person in a wheelchair.

Feel free to give us a call if you have further questions about your supplies and your travel plans. We’ll be glad to help you out.

About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 4 years and currently holds the title of Purchasing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.

5 Things You Should Know About Intermittent Catheters

by Jessica November 7 2013 15:16
5 things to know about catheters1. Just as no one person is the same, intermittent catheters are not all exactly the same. There are various catheter types to fit your preferences and needs.

2.  Intermittent catheters come in a range of different lengths and sizes. There are even tiny pediatric catheters for infants! Catheters are measured by the external diameter of the catheter tube, and this is commonly called a “French size.” You can tell the French size of a catheter by the color of its funnel end. See our chart for the funnel colors and the related French sizes. Your prescribing health practitioner will work with you to determine the best French size for your needs. If you are having problems with the size (for instance, if it feels difficult to insert or if it takes too long for the urine to drain), give your physician a call to discuss adjustments. As one of the largest catheter suppliers in the nation, we likely have the size you need!

3. There are ways to reduce the risk of UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections), such as using catheters sterilely (using it once and then disposing of it – see #4). You can also make sure to wash your hands thoroughly prior to catheterization, wear sterile gloves, and touch the catheter tube itself as little as possible when using regular straight catheters. Options such as hydrophilic, pre-lubricated or closed system catheters can minimize the risk because they do not require manual lubrication and are “touchless” for the most part. Many catheters can also be provided with insertion supplies, such as gloves, disinfectant wipes, and more.  For more detailed information on how to reduce UTIs, please see our article at

4. Intermittent catheters should be used once only and then thrown away. The FDA (Food & Drug Administration of the United States) regulates all intermittent catheters as single-use devices and do not approve these to be washed and reused. Catheters often have unique features such as crevices, angles, and porous surfaces that create barriers for cleaning and are capable of quick bacterial growth, even after professional cleanings in independent studies. Using catheters more than once can increase the risk of UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections).  For more information, see our article about the risks of reusing catheters.

5. Think you’re stuck paying out of pocket for your catheters? Most major insurance plans, including Medicare, will cover enough intermittent catheters for sterile use. See our handy insurance guide here. Give us a call, and we can verify your insurance policy and let you know your plan’s current coverage for intermittent catheters and related urological supplies.

180 medical jessAbout the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 4 years and currently holds the title of Purchasing and Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.

Cure Medical Releases Cure U Pocket Catheter

by Jessica October 14 2013 12:06
Cure Medical has recently released a new product: the Cure U Pocket Catheter! This male length intermittent catheter combines Cure’s top quality along with flexibility and a convenient and discreet U-shaped packaging. The curved packaging can be really helpful for men who wish to discreetly take their catheter products without having to carry a bag or tote with them, and it is designed to fit easily in most pant pockets.

cure medical pocket catheter

Straight catheters for men are normally packaged in a straight parcel, which are usually at least 16 inches or longer. With the Cure U, the curved catheter nearly halves the length of the packaging without sacrificing cure medical pocket catheterthe actual length or quality of the catheter. The Cure U was designed to be easily tucked into your pants pocket for a more discreet method of carrying a personal intermittent catheter with you wherever you go.

Like all of Cure's products, this catheter is not made with DEHP, BPA, or natural rubber latex, and Cure Medical donates 10% of net income towards a cure for spinal cord injuries and central nervous system disorders. It features smooth, polished eyelets to reduce friction as the catheter travels through the urethra.

The Cure U is available in straight tip, straight tip with lubricant included in the package, coudé tip with lubricant included, straight tip with insertion supplies packaged, and an extra long Cure U Pocket XL Catheter at 25 inches long and packaged with a gripper sleeve and lubricant.

 12fr   Straight tip, 16 inches 
 14fr   Straight tip, 16 inches
 M16U  16fr  Straight tip, 16 inches
 M14UL   14fr  Straight tip, 16 inches, packaged with lubricant packet
 M12ULC   12fr  Coudé tip, 16 inches, packaged with lubricant packet
 M14ULC  14fr  Coudé tip, 16 inches, packaged with lubricant packet
 M16ULC  16fr  Coudé tip, 16 inches, packaged with lubricant packet
 M14UK  14fr  Straight tip, 16 inches, packaged with insertion supplies 
 M14XL  14fr  Straight tip, Extra Long at 25 inches, packaged with lubricant packet and gripper sleeve 

Are you ready to try out a discreet pocket catheter like the Cure U?

Give us a call at 1-877-688-2729 and speak to one of our trained Catheter Specialists for more information.

Other Posts You May Find Helpful:

About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for four years and currently holds the title of Purchasing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.

LoFric Catheters Change to POBE Material

by Jessica August 19 2013 09:03
Here at 180 Medical, we always want to make sure that each of our customers are well-educated on the products they use and if there are any changes to their supplies that may affect them.

As of July 2013, Wellspect Healthcare will be updating the material of their LoFric® straight hydrophilic intermittent catheters from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) to a cutting-edge new material called POBE (polyolefin-based elastomer), which is free of both PVC, softeners, latex, and DEHP.

The primary benefit for you is that POBE-based catheter tubes are more resilient, and the overall discomfort of the entire catheterization process (from insertion to withdrawal) decreases when using the POBE (PVC-free) LoFric® catheter. POBE is already widely utilized in a multitude of safety-proven medical devices, and the majority of catheter-users prefer the POBE material over the PVC when given the choice.

Only the catheter material itself has been changed; each catheter will still have the special hydrophilic coating (Urotonic™ Surface Technology) that alleviates friction and provides extra comfort for you during catheterization.

During the remainder of 2013, all PVC LoFric® catheters will be switched over to POBE, and as a result of the transition, you may receive partial shipments of the PVC and POBE catheters until the remainder of our PVC stock has completely run out.

Please feel free to give us a call if there are any questions or concerns, and our Catheter Specialists will be glad to help you out!

About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for four years and currently holds the title of Purchasing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such fun, caring company.


Tips for Self-Catheterization for Beginners

by Catheter Experts July 24 2013 15:28
tips for self-catheterization for beginners

People who are new to catheters may feel nervous, embarrassed, or even concerned when they're told by their doctors that they need to start self-cathing.

We want to reassure you that these feelings are perfectly normal, but that for the many thousands of people with conditions that require catheterization such as urinary retention, neurogenic bladder, spinal cord injuries, and more, intermittent urinary catheters often give them back a sense of independence as well as a better quality of life.

180 medical catheterization instructions dvd bookletAt 180 Medical, we're glad to offer the support you need when you're new to self-catheterization. Our specialists are ready to listen to all of your concerns and find a solution for you with the right products for your needs.

We also provide helpful, step-by-step self-catheterization instruction guides for men, women, and children, and we also have convenient online instructions for quick access to show you how to self-cath, including hygienic preparation, catheter insertion, withdrawal, and disposal. This helpful information is for all types of intermittent catheters for males, females, and pediatric customers.

Here are a few quick tips to know before you start cathing on your own.

Stay Relaxed and Don't Force the Catheter

If you are too tense, you might have more difficulty inserting your catheter. Don't force it, especially if you encounter some resistance. Take some calming, relaxing breaths for a few minutes, and try again. Sometimes coughing can also help to loosen the bladder sphincter as well, which may make it easier to insert.

gentlecath pro closed system catheterAs always, you'll want to either use plenty of lubrication to make the process smooth and comfortable throughout if you're using a straight intermittent catheter. Most people prefer smaller and easy-to-carry individual packets of sterile lubrication, although many also like using a tube of lubrication.

A pre-lubricated closed system catheter or a hydrophilic coated catheter (which is coated with a hydrophilic polymer that becomes slippery when activated by water) may provide an even more hygienic, comfortable, and convenient catheterization experience. 

At 180 Medical, we gladly do the legwork for you to check with your health insurance provider to see if these advanced catheter products are covered by your policy, and we also get any necessary documentation from your doctor that your insurance may require.

Some people have difficulty inserting straight tip catheters and may need to consider using a catheter with a curved tip. This is known most commonly as a coudé tip catheter, which is available in the original straight technology, hydrophilic, and closed system catheter options. As this is most common to men, whether due to a stricture, blockage, or an enlarged prostate, coudé tips are usually only available in male length (16 inches or longer). If you can't insert a straight catheter, coudé catheter insertion may be far easier, so you will want to address that issue with your doctor to see if a coudé catheter is right for you.

coudé or straight tip catheters

Talk to your doctor about what type of catheter might be the right option for you and your individual needs and anatomy.

Don't Risk Reusing Your Catheter

Most people choose to use a new sterile disposable catheter each time they need to self-catheterize. Keep in mind that that intermittent catheters are considered single-use only devices.

do not reuse cathetersThese guidelines are stamped on every intermittent catheter's package, alongside some of the other important symbols on your catheter package.

The sterile-use guideline typically looks like a 2 with a slash across it, so that you know to only use a catheter one time.

Find out more about the risks of washing and reusing catheters.

Watch Out for Red Flags

Occasionally, there may be some other underlying issue that makes self-cathing difficult or painful. Please contact your healthcare professional if you start to experience any of the following problems:

  • Painful insertion
  • Frequent urination 
  • Blood in urine 
  • Absence of urine for 6-8 hours while on catheterization schedule
  • Signs of a UTI (urinary tract infection) or bladder infection such as a fever, increased urgency, and/or pain or burning in the urethra, bladder, abdomen or lower back

If you have any other questions about how to self-cath or if you want to know more about certain catheter products, feel free to contact 180 Medical for all of your catheter supply needs!

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Coudé Catheters

by admin June 25 2013 09:58
A coudé catheter is a type of urinary catheter that features a slight curve or bend in the insertion tip. Using a coudé or curved tip catheter makes it easier for some men to thread the catheter past their prostate. Coudé tip catheters are also good for anyone with narrowing of the urethra and that have any blockages in their urethral pathway.

Jake Klein, MS, CPNP and Director of Urological Surgical Reconstruction and Continence Center and Continence Specialist at OU Medicine Department of Urology, gave us some examples of other instances where coudé catheters could be used:

  • Adults with prior prostate surgery or resection
  • Young boys with posterior urethral valves
  • Patients with either a urethral or stomal false passes
  • Patients that have had chemo or radiation to the urethral area
  • Males with urethral stricture disease secondary to hypospadais repairs or urethral trauma
180 Medical offers a variety of the top coudé-tip catheters. Coudé-tip catheter products come in intermittent catheter, hydrophilic catheter, or closed system catheter options. People who catheterize on a regular basis know that one size catheter does not fit all.

There are different types of coudé catheters available such as an olive tip, Tiemann tip, or tapered tip. 

The olive-tip catheter has a tip that is shaped like a round ball, which is easier to insert past obstructions if any exist in the passage way. The olive tip allows you to get past tissue that a tapered tip might get caught on – such as edge of tissue. 

The tapered tip can navigate through strictures and stomal hitches very well as they have more of a smooth upward point. 

About the Author:

Trish has worked for 180 Medical for three years as the Nebraska Office Coordinator. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and daughters.

Do Catheters Expire?

by admin May 27 2013 08:39
If you're new to using intermittent urinary catheters, you may be wondering if your catheter supplies will ever expire.

According to catheter manufacturer Teleflex Medical’s global labeling policy, catheter labels require an expiration date or some other means by which users may be assured of the quality at the time of use.

Expiration dates indicate the package's integrity and the sterility of the catheter. Typically, the catheters do not break down, but the sterility may be compromised after the expiration date printed on your package.

Catheter Expiration Date
A pre-lubricated catheter may lose its hydration, and the lubrication's sterility can not be guaranteed after the expiration date.

If you are using a hydrophilic catheter with a sterile water packet enclosed, the expiration date indicates the tested time during which sterility of this water can be maintained.

We recommend that our customers use catheters prior to the expiration date to take any possible step to create a sterile environment and help prevent any unnecessary infections or issues.

Find out more about what the symbols on your catheter package mean here.

About the Author:

Trish has worked for 180 Medical for almost three years as the Nebraska Office Coordinator. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and daughters.