Introduction: External Urinary Catheters

External urinary catheters (EUC) are used as collection devices or systems (referred in the UroToday reference center as external urine collection devices [EUCD]) for collecting and containing urine via tubing that relies on gravity to drain urine away from the penis or perineum into a drainage bag or suction that pulls urine into a container.
An EUCD is not inserted in the kidney, like a stent or nephrostomy tube, or in the bladder or urethra, like an indwelling (Foley) or a catheter inserted for intermittent drainage. It is placed externally, adhering to the genitalia or pubic area to drain urine in persons with urinary incontinence. They are often referred to as “bodyworn products” as the device is applied (attached) on the body.
external urinary catheters
There are several EUCD categories including disposable catheters that are rolled over the penile shaft and glans-adherent EUCDs. These are referred to as male external catheters (MECs). Other terminology used for MECs includes Texas catheter, urinary sheath, or condom catheter. Correct sizing and secure fastening are critical to the success of most MECs. Men prefer MECs made from silicone than latex. UTI incidence is similar. There are many more external product options available for men than women because the penile shaft provides a natural extension onto which other devices may be fitted. These devices use gravity to drain urine but new technology has been developed specifically for male military pilots that use sensors. When triggered, a suction mechanism is activated to pull urine away. New innovative products for women also incorporate suction for pulling urine from the perineum via a pump mechanism.

The 2009 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC Guidelines recommended that clinicians should “consider using external catheters as an alternative to an indwelling urinary catheter (IUC) in cooperative male patients without urine retention or bladder outlet obstruction” (pg. 38) (Gould et al. 2010). The 6th International Consultation on Incontinence recommended that MECs are more comfortable than indwelling urinary catheters and those with an integrated adhesive that secures the MEC is preferred over other types.

Written by: Diane K. Newman, DNP, ANP-BC, FAAN, Adjunct Professor of Urology in Surgery, Research Investigator Senior, Perelman School of Medicine, Co-Director, Penn Center for Continence and Pelvic Health, Division of Urology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

April 2020
Written by: Diane K. Newman, DNP, ANP-BC, FAAN
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