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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.