Catheterisation allows urine to drain freely from the bladder for collection by inserting a tube into the urethra.

It may be used for heart, bladder or other organs, but in this instance we are discussing just the bladder use.

A doctor or nurse can perform the procedure, but with experience and instruction a patient can perform the procedure themselves. This is called self-catheterisation.

Types of different catheters

There are a range of different designs of catheters which may be used either as a permanent or temporary arrangement to aid in the removal of urine from the body. The types inserted into the urethra are commonly made of silicone type rubber material which can have a balloon type structure at its tip. The purpose of this is to hold the catheter in place.

In the event you have to have one, make sure you discuss this fully with your clinician before proceeding.

Depending on the severity of the condition, the clinician will make a decision of what type of catheter to use .That is how large or small, but it should be pointed out the larger catheters can and do damage the urethra.

The external type of urethra for males is a condom like sheath which covers the penis and while it risks a lower level of infection because it is used externally no catheters are perfect.

Some patients develop allergies or sensitivities to latex after long-term latex catheter use and this is important to discuss with your doctor the options if this should arise.

Men and Women

In men a tube is inserted into the penis to access the urinary tract. In women it sometimes can be a little more complicated depending on the condition of the patient i.e. childbirth, age, obesity and the difficulty of insertion anatomically into the genital area, but a good clinician who has experience in this, will be the best option. Make sure you ask before the procedure takes place. Its your health after all. And if they do not have a lot of experience ask for a more experienced clinician.

It can be extremely painful for many patients to have a catheter inserted and removed so sometimes a topical anesthetic can help minimise the pain.

The most important consideration is a sterile environment and trained, qualified personnel, using equipment designed for this purpose. Anything other than this should be unacceptable to you.Failing this may result in urinary tract infections.

Patients performing self-catheterization must also understand how critical it is to carry out the procedure on themselves in a sterile environment.

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Long Term Use

The longer someone is using a catheter the greater the chance of infection.

A bladder infection or urinary tract infection can kill you so make no mistake the longer it goes on for the greater your chance of infection.

Some of the long term complications incurred may include: blood infections (sepsis), the urethra being damaged and resulting in infection, blood in the urine, bladder cancer to name a few.

Self-cleanliness is so important to reduce the risk of infection.

Many people who are incapacitated because of illness, injury or disease may have no option but to use a catheter. However if you are fortunate enough to escape the clutches of these complications make it a number one goal to get off using them.The consequences of long term incontinence and catheterisation are to be avoided at all costs .

Generally because of this risk, catheterisation should be seen as the last resort and it should be the goal of every person who is physically and mentally able to stop using them as soon as is practically possible.

There are of plenty of women and men who had to fight to get off them who became determined to strengthen their pelvic area to avoid never going back with a catheter. Most of them succeeded so can you!

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