Catheters in the medical field are thin tubes made from surgical grade materials that are meant to be inserted into canals, vessels, passageways, or body cavities, usually to keep the passage open for injection or withdrawal of fluids. For example, the central venous catheter is inserted into a large vein in the body (e.g., neck, chest, groin, or arm) and used to quickly deliver intravenous IV fluids. High-quality catheters are prerequisites for the users’ health and well-being.
One of the most commonly used catheters is the urinary catheter, used to empty the bladder when a patient is unable to do so naturally. There are three types of urinary catheters – indwelling or long-term catheters, external catheters and short-term or intermittent catheters.
Intermittent catheters are the best solutions for individuals who are cognitively and physically able to participate in their own bladder decompression care. Usually, the sterilised catheter is inserted into the patient’s urethra by a trained healthcare professional. Then, the patient is required to gently direct the tube through the bladder. This will allow urine to flow into the bag and drain out. The catheter is then removed after the bladder has been emptied. There are several advantages of using intermittent catherization over other forms of catherisation.
This is perhaps the greatest advantage intermittent catheterization has over indwelling catheters. Indwelling catheterization restricts the patient’s movements and independence to continue routine activities. In the case of intermittent catheterization, the patient is not required to wear the catheter constantly but only at regular intervals when emptying the bladder. Intermittent catheters are designed to simulate natural voiding and can be used at home and even at work.
Reduced Risk of Infections:
Indwelling catheterization is notorious for causing urinary tract infections or UTIs. The constant presence of the catheter as well as the length are the primary contributory factors. Intermittent catheterization reduces the time the catheter is inside the body and thereby reduces the chances of UTIs and other infections.
Indwelling catheters are also known to result in blockages due to encrustation. The blockages thereby result in pain, distress, urine retention, and urine bypassing the catheter. Intermittent catheters are regularly removed and thus do not get encrusted. Even if they do get blocked, they can be easily removed and replaced with a new one. Indwelling catheters can cause urethral stricture if the diameter of the catheter is larger than required. This problem can be avoided through intermittent catheterization. Furthermore, intermittent catheters also avoid blocking in paraurethral glands and abscess formation.
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Intermittent catheterization helps the patient gain control over their own activities, which not only makes their work easier but also helps boost their confidence as they go about their life. It makes for the best catheterization method for patients who are healthy and do not depend on external care for their day to day activities.