Understanding the Difference Between Catheter Types

understanding the types of catheters

Have you been told you need to use catheters? It can be confusing when you’re not even sure what type of catheter to use. First, you need a good understanding of the differences between catheter types.

Let’s examine the two main types of urinary catheters that are inserted to drain the bladder, which are intermittent catheters and indwelling Foley catheters.
gentlecath catheters

Intermittent Catheters

You can insert this single-use catheter into the bladder through the urethra or occasionally a stoma. After each use, you can throw the intermittent sterile catheter away. This keeps your catheterization practice hygienic and may reduce the risk of complications like UTIs (urinary tract infections).

Your prescribing healthcare practitioner will usually show you how to insert your catheters since you will likely be self-cathing on a regular basis. In addition, they will prescribe and let you know how frequently you should self-cath each day.

The 3 main types of intermittent catheters to know are:

Straight Catheters

This intermittent catheter is the original urinary catheter type, and it has come a long way since the first catheter’s invention.

Straight catheters are uncoated, so you must manually lubricate this catheter type before use. Typically, people prefer to use lubricating jelly, which is packaged either in single-use individual packets or flip-top tubes. Additionally, male length straight catheters are available in travel-sized pocket catheter options, which come in a curved or U-shaped package. If you prefer a more discreet catheter option, you can easily tuck these into your pocket, briefcase, or backpack for easy carrying.

Hydrophilic Catheters

Hydrophilic catheters are similar to straight catheters in terms of length and insertion tip options. The main difference is that hydrophilic catheters have a unique coating which, when activated by water, becomes lubricated and ready to use. These don’t require additional lubricating jelly, and you can use these with less mess and less effort.
hydrophilic male catheters

Closed System Catheters

Closed system catheters are all-in-one sterile options that come in a self-contained collection bag. Frequent travelers and people in wheelchairs often prefer closed system catheter kits, thanks to their ease of use. Plus, these pre-lubricated catheters often come with additional insertion supplies like gloves, an underpad, and antiseptic wipes to minimize the risk of infection. In addition, closed systems feature introducer tips, which help bypass the highest concentrations of bacteria in the urethra.

male closed system catheters

All of the above-mentioned types of intermittent catheters are typically available in a variety of options, depending on the brand you choose, including:

  • straight tip catheters
  • coudé tip catheters
  • male length catheters
  • female length catheters
  • pediatric length catheters
  • pocket catheters

Indwelling Foley Catheters

If intermittent catheters are not an option, then your doctor may determine you should have an indwelling Foley catheter. Your doctor or a nurse will place the Foley catheter for you. A small inflated balloon holds the Foley catheter in place in the bladder, which keeps it in place for days or weeks. The length of time depends on your doctor’s recommendation.

One potential downside of using a Foley catheter is that it may increase the risk of infections like UTIs (urinary tract infections). When a catheter is left in for long periods of time as with Foleys, it can sometimes lead to bacterial growth in the urethra and bladder.ime and a good environment in which to multiply and grow.is that it can leave you more susceptible to the urinary tract and/or bladder infections since it is left inside the body for long periods of time.

What Catheter Type is Right for You?

At 180 Medical, we carry all the major catheter brands and types. By choosing 180 Medical for your catheter needs, you have the option to sample what might work best for you along with complete freedom of choice to pick the brand you prefer.

catheter brands at 180 medicalContact us at 180 Medical to start receiving the right intermittent catheters for you!

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Disclaimer: This post’s intent is to provide a general understanding of product options that are available on the market. Please do not use this information in place of recommendations from your prescribing healthcare provider. Lastly, for medical advice, please consult with your doctor.

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About the Author
Jessica is a Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she's been a part of the 180 family for 10 years. Her favorite part of working here is the positive impact we make on our community and in peoples' lives.

She loves cooking plant-based meals at home, listening to podcasts, creative writing, and taking walks with her dogs.