Urinary catheterization is a method used to drain the bladder and collect urine, through a flexible small tube called a catheter. They may be either inserted from the tube which carry urine out of the bladder or from a tiny opening made in lower tummy (suprapubic catheter). This catheter generally remains in the bladder, allows urine to flow through it and into a drain bag.

Depending on the kind of catheter has and why it is used, the catheter can be detached after a few minutes or hours or some days, or it may be needed for the extended term. There are 2 important types of urinary catheter:

  • Intermittent catheters – Catheters which are temporarily inserted into the bladder and will be removed after the bladder is empty

  • Indwelling catheters – catheters that remain in same place for more days or some weeks and are in a place by a water-filled balloon in the bladder

A urinary catheter is generally used in patients who have difficulty in passing urine naturally. It may also be used to empty the bladder before or after the surgery and to help in performing certain tests. Specific reasons include:

  • To allow the urine to drain if any obstruction in the tube that carries urine out of the bladder (urethra) – for example, because of scarring or prostate enlargement

  • To allow urinate if you have bladder failing or nerve damage which affects your capability to pee

  • To drain the bladder during childbirth, if you have an epidural anaesthetic

  • To drain the bladder before, during or after some kinds of surgical procedures, like operations on the womb, ovaries or bowels

  • To send medication straight to the bladder, such as during chemotherapy for bladder cancer

  • As a treatment for urinary incontinence when other types of treatment haven’t worked

Catheter diameters are sized by the French catheter scale (F). The most common sizes are 10 F (3.3mm) to 28 F (9.3mm). The doctor selects a size huge enough to allow free flow of urine, and huge enough to manage leakage of urine around the catheter. A bigger size is required when the urine is thick, bloody, or contains huge amounts of sediment. Larger catheters yet, are most likely to injure the urethra. Some people may extend allergies or sensitivities to latex following long-term latex catheter use make it necessary to use silicone or Teflon types.