The Installation and Use of Catheters for Patients


You may have heard of a medical catheter before. Yet, what is it exactly and how is it used? The website, Biology of Aging, grants readers information for curious minds.

We take the ability to urinate for granted, and hardly notice it unless under urgent circumstances. There are various people out there that require a catheter attachment to help them urinate regularly. There could be a number of reasons. One person might need a catheter for overactive bladder, and another has an enlarged prostate gland.

However, despite the benefits a catheter can have, it also comes with risks, especially for those prone to infections. These are called UTIs, or urinary tract infections, and usually happen during the insertion of the catheter. Whether it’s due to the catheter diameter, a person’s immune system, catheter flow, or an unclean catheter, there are several reasons an infection can happen.

However, groups such as elderly folk would rather have a catheter than be without one. UTIs can be treated successfully right away, especially in a hospital environment. For those that use a catheter on a regular basis, it’s important to let a medical professional know the moment you think something is wrong.

Some medical patients need assistance with their everyday health, but some of these issues are not serious enough so that they must stay in a hospital and have constant supervision in case something goes wrong. But some of these patients have a condition that does require some extra hardware in everyday life, and this may include catheters. A catheter is a tube inserted into the urinary tract of a patient to assist with urination, and there are a number of reasons why a patient may choose urological supplies such as a catheter and its collection bag. Free catheter samples may be available at one’s doctor or a hospital, and urology supplies may be on hand once a patient visits a specialized doctor, including catheters and auxiliary items like a collection bag or medicine in the case of an infection (this has been known to happen). What might catheters do for patients today, and what are some of the limitations of these medical devices?

The Work of Catheters and Their Use

Catheters are not new inventions; they date back a few millennia, and ever since, they have helped patients in need empty their bladder when they have trouble emptying their bladders on their own. In some cases, an enlarged prostate in men may make urination difficult, or in other cases, a person may suffer from situational incontinence; that is, their serious case of arthritis makes it difficult to urinate correctly, such as undoing a pants zipper or other issues. Urinary incontinence is a fairly common issue among senior citizens, in fact. Urinary incontinence increases with age from 14% of those aged 65-69, all the way to 45% among those aged 85 and older. Among older men in particular, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, may be an issue. Many men over the age of 60 have this condition, but not in all cases will it actually cause problems with blockage. For these issues and more, a catheter may become involved.

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Many hospitalizations, about 15-25% of them, involve the placement of a foley catheter. This is an indwelling catheter that may help the patient pass urine from the bladder during their stay in a hospital or during surgery, or a person suffering from incontinence in everyday life may visit a urologist. A urologist will know how to diagnose an issue with the kidneys, bladder, urethra, or more to diagnose a problem, and such doctors may often prescribe the use of a catheter to aid with urination.

Everyday use of a catheter involves knowing how to be responsible for it. A leg collection bag for a catheter should be cleaned every day, and a person should replace it whenever their doctor instructs them to. This will often be twice or month or once a week. Most patients who use catheters are advised to empty the leg bag when it is half-full, or twice a day, whichever is more applicable to the user. In this way, a catheter can function at its best capacity.

Those who make use of catheters, however, should be aware that there are some common health risks involved with their use, most often urinary tract infections, or UTIs; in particular, Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections, or CAUTIs. These infections are the most common type of healthcare-associated illnesses, and among acute care hospitals, CAUTIs account for about 30% of all healthcare-associated illnesses. Most often, these infections are caused when the catheter is inserted into the patient’s body, so a patient is urged to report any resulting health problems right away and get prescribed with the medicine that they need to deal with CAUTIs, whether in a hospital or during everyday life. If a patient can take good care of their urinary assistance hardware, and if they and doctors work to prevent these diseases, then a catheter can do a lot of good for a patient who is suffering incontinence, especially the elderly. This can help improve the dignity and convenience of everyday life.

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