Different Types of Catheters and Choosing the Right One

There are three main types of catheters and choosing the right one depends on your specific needs. Often times your health care provider will be able to recommend if you should have a reusable or single-use catheter; 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.

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

Patients use catheters 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.

Indwelling Catheters

Indwelling, or Foley, catheters are those that are left in the bladder for an extended amount of time. Physicians typically insert and remove Foley catheters. Instead of removing the catheter after each time of emptying the bladder, 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; your healthcare provider will deflate the balloon to remove the catheter.

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 wrap around the penis and connect to a drainage bag strapped to the inner thigh. External catheters generally carry a lower risk of infection than indwelling catheters and may be more comfortable for some users. You must change an external catheter 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 you simply insert the catheter to urinate and remove it when finished. There are several different types of intermittent catheters.

When deciding the right type of catheter, your best aide will be your physician. 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. If you have additional questions please don’t hesitate to give Aeroflow Healthcare a call at 888-345-1780; we’re here to help!


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