Self-Catheterization Grants Catheter Users More Independence And Comfort

Whether it’s suffering from a spinal injury, incontinence or other bladder condition, there are many reasons why a person might need to use a urinary catheter. This medical device is a tube, usually made of latex, silicone or Teflon, that is inserted into the urethra in order to drain the bladder. For people who have difficulty urinating for whatever reason, it can be a literal life-saver, but some types are expensive or inconvenient to use.
For some people who require long term catheterization, an implanted or indwelling device is an option. This type of device requires surgery to implant it and stays in place more or less permanently. It is generally connected to a drainage bag that can be attached to the leg or around the belly underneath your clothing. Suprapubic devices are another surgical option. These devices are implanted through the wall of the abdomen above the pubic bone. They go directly into the bladder and drain into a bag.

Foleys are catheterization devices that can be inserted, usually by someone trained in catheterization, into the urethra. They have a balloon that inflates at the top of the tube once it is in position that helps hold the tube in place, so they can stay inserted for a long period of time if needed. A major drawback to these is the fact that many people need to have someone assist them with insertion.
A final option is self-insertion catheters. These devices are similar to Foleys but don’t have the balloon to hold them in place. First they are inserted, the bladder is drained, and then the tube is removed. In most cases, this can be done while on the toilet if necessary, making it easy to drain your bladder while you are away from home.
For many people, self-insertion catheters provide the most freedom. Because the tube doesn’t remain in the urethra when not in use, there is no need to wear a drainage bag. Self-insertion catheters are also cost-effective because they don’t require expensive surgical procedures or the assistance of trained personnel to insert them.
Advances in self-inserted medical devices give you more options than you had in the past. Reusable models that can be washed and stored for the next time you need them have been around for a long time. More recently, manufacturers have started making catheters that come in sterile packaging and are designed for one-time use. For someone with a busy lifestyle who needs a discreet way to catheterize themselves while on the go, the disposable kind are a major improvement over what has been available in the past. They’re also cost-effective, considering they are all now for one-time-use. Even more important, the potential for urinary tract infections, always a threat when you must use catheters, is greatly reduced by the fact that you don’t reuse the cath.
The catheterization option you choose will depend on your medical condition and the requirements of your lifestyle. A self-insertion catheter may prove to be the option that gives you the most freedom, least risk of infection and lowest cost out of all the catheterization choices available.
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