Whether you have been using catheters for years or just days, Finding the Right Catheter for You can make all the difference in the world. We know, because we use catheters and it took us years to find the right catheters for us. We don't want that for you. Below you will find a detailed description of the categories of catheters and the differences with in each category. This should help you learn the right questions to ask that will lead you to the right catheter for you.
First of all, catheter prescriptions are usually written for one of four categories.
1. Straight Tip Catheters
2. Coude Tip Catheters
3. Straight Tip Catheters with Insertion supplies
4. Closed System Catheters
Once you have your prescription, many people simply use the products that are sent to them and are unaware that with in each category there are many manufacturers and each product has slight differences that could make cathing easier, safer, and more efficient for you. Below you will find a Brief description of the difference with in each category. For a more detailed description click on the link to your specific category.
Lets start with Straight Tip Catheters and the differences between products in this category.
1. Material - Latex Free Vs Red Rubber
Latex Free catheters are usually made from a vinyl or PVC material and
are stiffer than their Red Rubber counter parts.
Red Rubber catheters are more flexible and softer, depending on your
urethral structure and allergies, one may be better than the other.
Consult your doctor before using Red Rubber products as many
allergies can cause serious problems.
2. Stiffness of the product
If you were to cut the tip off of 10 straight tip catheters and look closely at the
amount of material in the products wall, you would see small differences that
make a big difference in the stiffness of the product. Some urethral
structures require a very stiff product to adequately pass into the bladder and
empty the urine. Where as with others, this added stiffness causes pain and
discomfort. In your case, you may want a more flexible and less stiff product.
Lubrication of straight tip catheters is a very complex issue that can be
broken down into three main categories. Non lubricated which requires
placing lubrication the catheter directly, Self Lubricated Catheters which have
lubrication in the packaging, and Hydrophilic catheters.
Most Straight Tip Catheters are Non lubricated where you remove the
catheter from the packaging and require placing lubrication directly on the
catheter before insertion. This technique works great for many people.
However, it does expose the catheter to more germs and bacteria that can
Self Lubricating Straight tip catheters contain lubrication packets inside the
catheter packaging and require bursting the packet inside the catheter
package before removing the catheter. This ensures the catheter is
lubricated and does not require actually touch and possibly contaminating
Hydrophilic Straight Tip Catheters are made with a special Hydrophilic
coating that activates when exposed to water. An outer layer of a hydrophilic
compound called polyvinylpyrrolidone that binds with water to create a liquid
surface that reduces friction. A thin film of water glides along the urethra with
less friction than an ordinary catheter with lubricant. Some Hydrophilic
catheters use ordinary tap water and some newer systems already have
water in the packaging.
4. Eyelet size and construction
The eyelets on a Straight Tip Catheter are designed to allow urine to pass
through the catheter and to the collection bag or urinal. Most products
today have polished/smooth eyelets to reduce friction while being inserted
through the urethra. If you have tried many different sizes and lubrication
techniques with your straight tip catheters it may be time to look at eyelet
size and find a catheter that has smoother eyelets. This could alleviate
some of the discomfort. Also if your urine stream is very light while cathing
you may need to find a product with larger eyelets.
Now that we have discussed the differences in Straight Tip Catheters, lets look at Coude Tip Catheters. Coude Tip Catheters have all of the same differences listed under Straight Tip Catheters and one more main difference to add.
1. Size and shape of the Coude/Olive Tip
First of all, a Coude Tip Catheter has a slight curve at the end of the
catheter to assist in passing enlarged prostates and urethral strictures.
The Olive Tip Catheter has a small bulb at the end of the curve to assist in
negotiating restrictions in the urethra. Each Manufacturer product has
different lengths and thicknesses of the coude tip and olive bulbs and one
may work better for you than another.
There is also a Tiemann Tip Coude catheter that has a much skinnier,
longer, and more flexible tip to help find the smallest of openings in your
urethra and guide the catheter through.