There are many different types of urinary catheters, each with various features and styles, but the basic design of most catheters is the same. We’ll each outline the purpose and function of each part in more detail to help you understand the design of a catheter.
1. Tip - The tip of the catheter has small eyelets and is the part that is inserted into your body, through the urethra, into the bladder. Once the tip is in the bladder, urine enters the catheter tube through the eyelets and can start draining. The tip of the catheter can be straight, as shown in the picture, or can be curved to help the user navigate around any blockages in the urethra. Curved tip catheters are known as coudé catheters and are popular among males who self-catheterize, but can also be used by women.
2. Tube - Depending on what catheter you are using, the catheter tube can be of different widths, lengths, and materials. The tube of the catheter allows the urine to travel from your bladder to the toilet or the drainage bag, depending on your supplies. The width of the catheter is known as the french size and can range from 5-24. Your doctor will assist you in selecting the correct size to prevent any pain or leaking while using the catheter. If you are unsure of your french size or are experiencing issues using your catheter, please reach out to your healthcare provider. Catheters also come in a variety of lengths, male catheters are usually 16 inches in length, while female catheters are typically 6-8 inches.
3. Drainage Opening - Also called the funnel, is the drainage opening and is wider to allow urine to flow out of the tube and into the toilet. In single use catheters, this is the end of the catheter system. In closed system catheters, the tube is in an attached drainage bag. The funnels can be different colors depending on the french size, this way you don't have to worry about using the wrong size catheter.