Choosing the best catheter: the only guide you will ever need
Whether you are a first-time user or an experienced user, we believe that there are things you don’t know when choosing the best catheter for yourself.
The first part of this guide will introduce the basic points of choosing a catheter-infection risk, French size, length, and tip (straight or rough). The second part of this guide will guide you step by step to understand the things you should consider but probably shouldn’t-discreteness, portability, lubricity, design, and cost.
Catheter-related urinary tract infection (CAUTI): what it is and how to reduce your risk
When choosing the best catheter, the risk of catheter infection may be the most important thing to remember. When a bacterially contaminated catheter is inserted into the urethra, catheter-related urinary tract infection (CAUTI) is triggered, which usually occurs when the user touches the catheter with dirty hands during the insertion process.
To prevent catheter infection, be sure to wash your hands before using the catheter. However, to further reduce the risk, you should choose a non-contact catheter, which means you do not have to touch the part of the catheter that is inserted.
Many catheters are now designed to be contactless. When you insert them, they can be secured by a plastic sheath, or the entire catheter can be wrapped in a plastic sleeve for contactless insertion.
The purpose of the non-contact catheter is to minimize the chance of bacteria entering the catheter through your hand. This can also help if your catheter is pre-lubricated. If the catheter currently in use needs to be lubricated before use, all of these treatments may introduce bacteria on the hands or on the lubricant package into the catheter. Therefore, please consider pre-lubricating the catheter. It can not only save you time, but also take further measures to protect you from urinary tract infections.
Choose the right French size: adult men and women
The diameter of the catheter is measured on a French scale. One French unit means that the diameter of the catheter is 0.33 mm. In order to skip the math, I only know that the most commonly used catheter size for men is 14 French, and the most commonly used catheter size for women is 12 French.
The average female catheter size range: 10-12fr; the most common: 12fr
The easiest way to find the best catheter size for you is to try some catheter samples. Most people can scale up or down without problems, and the only impact they see is the speed of traffic. However, for men, if the diameter of the catheter is smaller than the diameter of the urethra, urine may leak from around the catheter instead of smoothly leaking from the catheter. If the catheter is too large, you may experience discomfort (tightness and burning) during insertion. In extreme cases, a catheter that is too large can produce light tears in the urethra, and you may see blood in the urine. Remember that even with the right size, the lack of lubrication and rigidity of the rigid catheter can make insertion uncomfortable.
Color coding is commonly used for catheter French sizes. Check the color of the catheter funnel to find out the size of your catheter. The following are the most common adult catheter sizes and colors:
- Size 10 French: Black
- Size 12 French: White
- Size 14 French: Green
- Size 16 French: Orange
- Size 18 French: Red
Male and female catheter length
- Male standard catheter length: 16 inches; average male urethra length: 20 cm
- Female standard catheter length: 5-6 inches; average female urethra length: 4 cm
Who needs to extend the catheter?
Women who are larger or have stenosis may need to purchase extra long catheters. Women who insert catheters in their wheelchairs may need to use male catheters: a 16-inch catheter allows them to drain from the wheelchair into the toilet.
However, if the catheter is still too short, a catheter extension can be used, which connects to the funnel of the catheter and provides an extra inch.
There are also unisex catheters that serve men and women by allowing men and women to pull the required length (up to 16 inches) from the wheel that the catheter surrounds.
Coudé catheter vs straight catheter
The straight catheter has a straight tip and is a standard catheter.
The Coudé catheter has a curved tip. This curve makes it easier for people with lumps along the urethra or at the entrance of the bladder to insert. The bumps act as a “speed bump” for the straight duct, making it difficult to pass through. On the other hand, the rounded curved tip will allow the catheter to slide more smoothly over the bump. The Coudé tip also helps prevent the catheter from being inserted into the wrong channel.
People with these diseases may need Coudé catheters:
- Prostatic hyperplasia is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
- Scars from previous prostate surgery
- Urethral stricture disease or previous urethral trauma
- False passage in the urethra or stoma
- Radiotherapy for prostate/bladder cancer
When inserting the Coudé catheter, you need to make sure the tip is facing up. Usually, you will see a line marking the direction on the funnel or along the catheter. For the CompactCathCoudé, as long as you keep the housing facing up, the tip will always point up.
Choose the best catheter lubrication method: lubricant pack, hydrophilic coating and silicone oil coating
The oldest method of lubricating catheters is to use K-Y jelly packaging on dry catheters. There are several reasons why this method is not ideal:
- Time-consuming and inconvenient: Compared to pre-lubricated ready-to-use catheters, dry catheters require additional lubrication time.
- Potentially higher risk of infection: Whether you tear off the lubricant package or guide the catheter through the package, it is possible that bacteria from your hands or the package shell can enter the catheter and cause urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Insufficient lubrication: When inserting the catheter, you will notice that the gel lubricant collects around your urethral opening. Since your urethra is narrow, the gel is pushed out, so many gel lubricants cannot penetrate deep into the urethra. This means that when you insert the catheter and then pull it out, your catheter may not have enough lubrication. Friction can cause discomfort or even minor wounds, which can lead to bleeding and increase the risk of infection.
An alternative to dry catheters is to pre-lubricate catheters. There are currently two main types on the market: hydrophilic catheters and silicone-coated catheters.
The hydrophilic catheter has a polymer coating, which becomes smooth and slippery when in contact with water. The catheter is packed with a sterile water bag, which can be ruptured before use to lubricate the catheter. Since the hydrophilic catheter needs to be immersed in water, it is likely to drip water to you during use.
On the other hand, the tube coated with silicone oil is oil, so it will not drip. It is medically inert (will not react with any chemicals in your body) and has anti-microbial properties, that is, the ability to kill microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. Catheters coated with silicone oil can provide excellent lubrication and is an exciting innovation in the catheter industry.
What design elements should be considered when choosing a catheter
When choosing a catheter, you have many options, so consider how to make the catheter suitable for your life. Maybe you want it to take up as little space as possible in an already crowded school bag? Maybe you don’t want people to see it and immediately realize that it is a catheter? Maybe when you go to a public restroom, do you want it to fit your back pocket? If you need to consider caution, you may want to choose a catheter that is compact, lightweight, and well-packaged. Check out the catheter designed by CompactCath, which has a beautiful raindrop-like packaging and is smaller than the palm of your hand.
What design elements to consider when flexibility is limited
People with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, arthritis, etc. may need easy-to-operate catheters, but not all catheters are designed with this in mind. Look for a catheter with an easy-to-open design (for example, a hoop that can be easily grasped when opening the catheter package) and a plastic sleeve around the catheter with an easy-to-insert design.
Finally, what is the best budget for you?
If you have insurance, please read through the insurance policy, contact your insurance representative to determine if you are covered by the catheter, and we will find the answer for you!
If you have already obtained catheters from DME, did you know that you can switch to other brands of catheters anytime, anywhere, at no additional cost in most cases? (Please note that if your doctor prescribes a specific brand of catheter for you, you may need a new prescription)
Please contact your DME representative to request a free CompactCath sample, or request a sample copy through our website.
If you do not have insurance and buy at your own expense, CompactCath will provide free samples and a 40% discount on your first purchase.
Using a catheter can be difficult and laborious, but choosing the right catheter may make it better. Since you may need up to five to six urinary catheters per day, it is important to try different samples to find the best catheter for you. Using urinary catheters may increase costs, so make sure you understand your benefits and qualifications. The CompactCath team is here to provide you with any help, from calculating insurance to providing you with the best catheter.
Try CompactCath and see if it works for you!
CompactCath is an ultra-compact, pocket-sized, non-contact catheter, pre-lubricated with antibacterial silicone oil. It has an easy-to-open and discreet design that can be perfectly integrated into your life.
CompactCath was designed by a team of physicians, mechanical engineers and MBA from Stanford University. It was approved by the FDA in 2014, won two iF product design awards (2016, 2017), is covered by CNN Money, has six patents, and received funding from BioDesign Spectrum and LPCH Pediatric Innovation.