Urinary catheters are hollow and partially flexible tubes that carry urine from the urinary bladder to the drainage bag. They are used when the patient can not use the bathroom on their own. Urinary catheters come in various shapes and sizes. They can be made up of rubber, plastic, or silicone.

The person needs to get a catheter when their bladder can not empty properly. If it happens, the urine build-up occurs that can exert pressure on the kidneys. It can be a life-threatening condition as it can damage kidneys, leading to kidney failure.

Some people need a catheter for a short time. Whereas, some like those who are elderly or have permanent injury need to get it for a long time.

Indwelling catheters for a long time can cause infections. Therefore you need to take good care of them. If you want to know how to take care of them, you can visit a urologist in Karachi.

Why are Catheters Used?

Catheters can be used in the following scenario:

  • If a person can not control or hold the urine
  • If a person has urinary incontinence or urinary retention

The reasons when a person can not urinate on their own can be:

  • Obstruction in the urinary tract due to kidney stones, prostate enlargement, blood clots, or bladder stones
  • Surgery of the prostate gland
  • Getting surgery done in the genital region such as hysterectomy or hip bone fracture repair
  • Injury to the nerves that help in urinating
  • Any injury to the spinal cord
  • Health conditions that cause mental impairment such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Spina bifida
  • Medications that do not let your bladder empty completely

What are the Types of Catheters?

Classified based on area of insertion, catheters can be divided into three types, such as:

  • Indwelling catheter
  • External catheter

Indwelling catheters

Indwelling catheters, also known as urethral catheters, are the ones that reside in the urinary bladder, collect urine from there and bring it out. It can be used for short or long periods.

External Catheters

External catheters, also known as condom catheters, are used in men whose urinary bladder works well, but they have some serious mental impairment due to which they do not use the bathroom.

It is like a condom that covers the head of the penis. From there, it collects the urine and takes it to the drainage bag.

What are the Complications of a Urinary Catheter?

A catheter that remains for a long time can lead to potential complications. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections are a common reason for sepsis. Since it creates a bridge between the outside and the inside of the body, the microbes can travel directly into the patient’s body with ease.

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection are:

  • Cloudy appearance of urine due to pus
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Low back pain and achiness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Burning of the urethra or genital area
  • Leaking of urine out of the catheter
  • Blood in the urine


Other complications due to a urinary catheter are:


  • Bladder stone
  • Blood in urine
  • Kidney damage due to long term indwelling catheterization
  • Infection of the kidney
  • Blood in the urine
  • Septicemia

Catheters, when remain for a long time, can cause urinary tract infections that can become life-threatening, especially in the elderly. Therefore you need to keep them clean and disinfected to prevent any microbial growth. If you need to know more about dealing with catheters, you can visit a urologist in Lahore.





By Syed Khubaib Saifi

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