Different Types of Catheters and Choosing the Right One

There are many different types of catheters and choosing the right one to fit your specific needs can be a trying and daunting experience. Often times your healthcare provider will be able to recommend the type of catheter they think would work best for you, however it is definitely a good idea to have a basic understanding of catheters when talking to your doctor about them. To start, we will look into what a catheter is and why catheterization may be a good choice for you.

Catheters are used in patients when they are not able to urinate on their own, when they suffer from urinary incontinence (leakage), or when their bladder or urethra needs time to heal. There are several causes for the use of catheters such as prostate enlargement, prostate cancer surgery, radiation therapy, blockages, or the narrowing of the urethra. If you have any of these issues, catheterization may be a good option for you. Dependent upon your specific symptoms and needs, there is a catheter that will work best for you.

There are three main types of catheters: indwelling, external, and intermittent.

Indwelling Catheters

Indwelling, or Foley, catheters are those that are left in the bladder for an extended amount of time. These catheters are typically inserted and removed by a physician instead of the user. Instead of removing the catheter after each time of emptying the bladder, such as with an intermittent catheter, indwelling catheters use a drainage bag attached to the patient to collect urine. An indwelling catheter may be inserted through the urethra or through a small hole in the stomach. To prevent the catheter from sliding out, indwelling catheters have a small, inflated balloon on the end; when it is time for the catheter to be removed, the balloon is deflated.

External Catheters

Unlike other types of catheters which are inserted into the urethra, external, or condom, catheters are placed outside of the body. These catheters are typically used for men and wrap around the penis and connect to a tube which is connected to a drainage bag that is often strapped onto the inner thigh. External catheters generally carry a lower risk of infection than indwelling catheters and may be more comfortable for some users. This type of catheter must be changed daily.

Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheters, sometimes called short-term catheters, are inserted and removed by the user each time after the bladder has been emptied. Unlike indwelling or external catheters, intermittent catheters eliminate the need for the user to continuously utilize a drainage bag. These type of catheters typically allow for a more active and freeing lifestyle since the catheter is simply inserted and then removed when urination needs to take place. There are several different types of intermittent catheters; you can read more about the various intermittent catheters here.

When deciding the right type of catheter to fit your specific situation, your best aide will be your physician, however as a current or future catheter user, it is good to know exactly what you are getting into when it comes to catheterization. If you would like more information about catheters or incontinence supplies, Aeroflow Healthcare can provide more answers here.

Once you have determined the type of catheter that is right for you, Aeroflow Healthcare can help you get your catheters and incontinence products through insurance. Simply fill out our Qualify Through Insurance form and our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives will do the rest. You can also see Aeroflow Healthcare’s complete list of incontinence products and brands by visiting our website. If you have additional questions please don’t hesitate to give Aeroflow Healthcare a call at 888-345-1780; we’re here to help!


Share Button


“Aeroflow was wonderful when it came to helping us with our wheelchairs and lift-even showed us how to use the lift. We were very thankful for the friendly and knowledgeable service.”
“I was looking for a power wheelchair for my wife. Aeroflow had a great selection and they were very kind and helpful on the phone. Great people to do business with!”
“I recently bought a Go-GoPower Scooter from Aeroflow and couldn't be happier with its mobility and compact design. The chair is amazing and goes anywhere I want. It was a great experience!”
“My doc referred me to Aeroflow when I needed a sleep test, and I went back when I needed a wheelchair. The service was exceptional! Aeroflow really cares about their customers.”