Catheter types are now gender specific, acknowledging the anatomical differences in urethral length between men and women.
- Standard male catheter length is 16” (~40cm)
- Female catheters range in length from 6-12
- Pediatric lengths are 6-10”.
Many women find that shorter catheters do not shift and are easier to grasp and insert.
A catheter diameter is measured in French units, similar to the size of indwelling urinary catheters. Sizes range from 6-12 French for children and 14-22 French for adults. The funnel end of the catheter is often color coded to allow for easier size identification.
Some catheters are sold individually packaged, are more compact, and can be easily carried in a purse or pocket.
Intermittent Catheter Types
There are two main designs of catheters used for intermittent bladder drainage: coated and uncoated.
Noncoated catheters require separate external gel lubrication, before insertion and catheters with a coating that provides the lubrication when water is applied. Uncoated red rubber catheters are not appropriate for anyone with latex sensitivities and the flexibility of a red rubber catheter can make it difficult to insert.
Coated catheters are designed to improve catheter lubrication and ease of insertion, which may reduce trauma and urinary tract infections. The most common coating is a hydrophilic coating as there is evidence supporting single-use HC catheters’ ability to prevent some of the most common catheter-associated complications, such as urethral trauma and CaUTIs.
In addition, design changes include the integration of all needed equipment (such as catheter, water-based lubricant, and drainage receptacle/ bag) into a compact and user-friendly system (closed system). The clinician who instructs the patient usually recommends the catheter choice, so knowledge of the different types of catheters is important.
Impact of Packaging
The type of catheter packaging can be decisive in the choice of a catheter. Consideration is made to the general clinical condition of the patient (injury, hand dexterity, any visual impairment, urethral considerations, gender, and age, are also considered before the cause of the bladder dysfunction.
The patient may need to try several catheters before finding the preferred type. Often patients require one type of catheter for use in their home and another for use when traveling or working or bring away from their own home.
Comparison of Types