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General Information about Intermittent Catheters

What Is a Catheter?

types of catheters

A catheter is a thin tube made from medical grade material that may serve different functions. 

For example, there are cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurovascular, and ophthalmic catheters. 

We specialize in urological catheters, also called urinary catheters, used for the drainage of urine from the bladder.  These catheters are sometimes called straight catheters (even if they have a curved tip), in and out catheters, suprapubic catheters, urine catheters, urinary catheters, intermittent catheters, intermittent urinary catheters, self-catheters, or, just like the name of our website, intermittent catheters.


Catheter Sizes

Catheter French Sizes

Intermittent catheters come in male length (16”), female length (6”) and pediatric length (10”).  Most intermittent catheters come in 6 French to 18 French size (diameter). Funnel end catheters have universal color coding by French size.  Luer end catheters have no funnel.  Your physician or urological nurse determines your French size for your prescription.



Catheter Stiffness

Catheters vary in stiffness.  Some catheter users prefer more stiffness while other catheter users prefer soft catheters.  Red rubber catheters are very soft, but some users find them too flimsy to handle.  Catheter stiffness is entirely patient preference.


Indwelling (Foley) Catheters versus Intermittent Catheters

Indwelling catheters are different than intermittent catheters because they remain in the bladder for days or even weeks by means of an inflated balloon. Intermittent urinary catheters are inserted into the bladder to void the bladder of urine and then removed as soon as the bladder is empty.  Foley catheters are no longer the standard of care in the home setting.


Straight Tip Catheters

Straight tip catheters are sometimes called straight catheters, or in and out catheters.  Straight tip catheters may come with insertion supplies, in a closed system kit, with lubricant, with hydrophilic coating, with antibacterial coating, or with antibacterial hydrophilic coating.  They can be PVC, silicone, or red rubber latex.


Coude Tip Catheters

Coude tip catheters have a curved trip, and are needed by those who cannot pass a straight catheter.  This may be due to urethral sticture, blockage, prostatic obstruction, or other reasons.  Your physician or nurse can help to determine if you require a coude tip catheter.


Catheters with Insertion Supplies

Sterile insertion supplies are indicated to prevent or reduce the incidence of urinary tract infection.  Supplies include gloves, lubricant, an underdrape, a collection bag, and an antiseptic wipe (BZK or povidone iodine).  Insurance requirements vary as to the medical documentation needed to qualify for insertion supplies.


Male Catheters

Male catheters come may be straight tip, coude tip or in a closed system kit.  The only difference between male and female intermittent catheters is the length of the catheter.   Closed system catheters with insertion supplies, i.e., kits, come with 1500 ml collection bags and large ambidextrous gloves--unisex and large enough for men.

Many long time male catheter users prefer red rubber catheters because they are very soft and gentle on urethral tissue.

The necessity for a curved tip or coude tip catheter in order to catheterize is more common in men than women.


Female Catheters

Female catheters are the same as male catheters, but shorter in length than male catheters--6” long as opposed to the 16” male length catheters. With the exception of the MTG Cath-Lean, closed system catheters with insertion supplies are unisex.  The Cath-Lean has a smaller volume urine bag (700 ml rather than 1500 ml), and a female length catheter (6” rather than 16”)  inside the kit.  MTG Cath-Lean is the first closed system intermittent catheter specifically created for women.


Pediatric Catheters

Catheter manufacturers generally offer a range of french size from 8 French to 18 French in any product line.  Rusch Teleflex leads the way in pediatric closed systems for newborns with a 6 French pediatric closed system catheter with kid-friendly designs, and hydrophilic coating options.  MTG offers a pediatric closed system catheter just for children called the Kiddie-Cath.  It features MTG’s unique EZ advancer which prevents the catheter from retracting back into the bag, a smaller collection bag, and comes in 8 French and 10 French.



Antibacterial Coating

Antibacterial catheters have nitrofurizone to reduce pathogenic urinary bacteria associated with urinary tract infections. Rochester Medical offers antibacterial coating on the Rochester Personal Catheter and Rochester M3 Magic Catheter.


Hydrophilic Catheters

Hydrophilic catheters have a special coating which reacts with water to create a lubricated surface; hydrophilic catheters are preferred by many patients because of the ultra slippery surface; however, hydrophilic coating cannot compensate for a low quality catheter.  It is important to have smooth fire-polished eyelets even if the catheter is hydrophilic.

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