What Is a Catheter Used For?


Quick Answer

A urinary catheter is a hollow tube used to collect urine from the bladder. They are available in different types and sizes and can be made from latex, silicone or rubber. A urinary catheter can be used by people who have urinary retention, incontinence urination, prostate surgery and medical conditions, such as dementia and multiple sclerosis, according to MedlinePlus.

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Full Answer

Types of urinary catheters include indwelling catheters, external catheters and short-term catheters. Indwelling catheters are placed inside the bladder through the urethra. It can be left in the bladder for short or long periods of time. The external catheter is placed outside the body and is commonly used for people suffering from medical conditions, such as dementia. External catheters need to be changed regularly. Short-term catheters are used for short periods, especially by patients who have undergone genital surgery.

Even with their immense benefits, there have been several complications that have been reported as a result of using catheters. Indwelling catheters have been noted to cause urinary tract infections. Symptoms of urinary tract infections include fever, bloody urine, headache, strong smelling urine, chills and burning in the genital area, according to Healthline. Other complications include kidney damage, bladder stones, kidney infections and allergic reactions. When using a catheter, it is important to clean it regularly to avoid the risk of contracting a urinary tract infection.

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