Are you one of many Americans that use medical supplies such as urinary catheters? If so, you may have heard the term intermittent catheterization but be unfamiliar with what it means or involves, especially given the fact that there are so many different types of catheters. Intermittent catheterization has a number of benefits, however only you and your health provider can determine if intermittent catheters are best for your needs. Below are some common questions that may help you make your decision.
What is intermittent catheterization?
Urinary catheters are medical devices designed to empty a patient’s bladder when they are unable to do so due to injury, surgery, a medical condition, or any other reason that would prevent them from doing so naturally. Most catheters empty urine into a drainage bag, which can be secured to the leg with elastic bands or hung alongside the bed for immobile patients. Catheter bags can be emptied into a toilet throughout the day as need, however intermittent catheterization requires the catheter to be inserted and removed throughout the day. This means the patient doesn’t have to wear a catheter that is continuously draining.
Is it easy?
Like many medical routines or procedures, inserting a catheter may seem a bit intimidating. With some practice however, intermittent catheterization becomes a fairly easy and hassle-free procedure. In fact even children as young as 7 can quickly manage catheterization independently! If you have difficultly with catheterization or unable to do so on your own, your health care provider or caregiver can assist you.
Does it work?
If you have difficulty emptying your bladder, intermittent catheterization is a comfortable and effective way to do so without having to wear a traditional catheter that continuously drains. Hold urine in your bladder and going for long periods of time without urinating can cause medical complications such as urinary tract infections or distention of the bladder, and using an intermittent catheter can help you avoid these conditions. In addition, intermittent catheterization can improve urinary incontinence. And because intermittent catheters are removed as needed, those with an active lifestyle can enjoy the convenience of this freedom.
But is it safe?
Because long-term catheters are left in for long periods and continually drain, patients are at a higher risk of developing leaking, blockage, infection, and bladder spasms. Intermittent catheters greatly reduces the risk of developing these conditions while providing a greater sense of flexibility.
Who are the best candidates for intermittent catheterization?
If you experience urinary incontinence, retention, or have bladder problems that may lead to kidney damage, you should speak to your health provider about using an intermittent catheter. People that have a spinal cord injury, spina bifida, or a neurological condition may also benefit from intermittent catheterization. In some cases, patients are required to use an intermittent catheter temporarily after prostate surgery or a hysterectomy.