How to Find the Right Catheter Supplies (and Supplier)

How to find find catheter supplies and suppliers

The options for catheter supplies can feel endless, but we’re here to help. Here’s how to find the right supplies and the right catheter supplier that your insurance will cover.

Finding the right catheter and supplies for you can be daunting. You’ll need more than just the cath itself to make sure that your new routine becomes routine. There are an array of types, options, accessories, and brands designed to fit your lifestyle and needs—which is great! The challenge is finding the perfect option for you—that is also covered by your insurance. While this might sound daunting, it can be done. Here’s what you need to know.

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The Types of Urinary Catheters
Urinary catheters come in a few main types, each with their own essentials. There are a range of options on the market for you to choose from—from specific types and sizes to slightly different models from brands like Apogee, Coloplast, Cure, Convatec, Hollister, Rusch, and Bard. Here’s what you need to know.

External or Condom Catheters:
External catheters look and function similarly to a condom. A sleeve of latex or silicone encloses the penis and contains the urine, rather than needing to be inserted into the urethra. Typically the urine then drains out into a tube and then into a drainage device such as a leg or bedside bag. These have also been called “Texas catheters,” though their size is similar to a regular catheter.

Intermittent Catheters
For those who need more assistance, an intermittent catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra at regular intervals to drain the bladder. The catheter is then removed once the bladder has been drained. These tubes can be made from a variety of materials—PVC, silicone, latex, sterile or non-sterile. The majority are designed to be discarded after each use. Of course, not all intermittent catheters are equal: you might prefer or require one of the following types.
Straight tip catheters: The most-common intermittent catheter tip type.
Coude-tip catheters feature a slight curve or bend at the tip to make threading the catheter past the prostate or through a narrow urethra easier.
Olive Tip: Beyond the curve of the coude-tip, an olive tip catheter also has a rounded or ball-shaped tip for easier insertion.
Introducer Tips: Here the tip is enclosed in a lubricated sleeve with a special tip to help decrease the chance of contamination by helping it bypass the outermost area of the urethra that often contains bacteria.
Hydrophilic catheters eliminate the need for lubricants, thanks to a special coating that activates when it comes into contact with water or saline.

Catheter Sizing:
Catheters are available in many sizes to reflect the many people who wear them. The right catheter size ensures that urine will flow at the correct pace without discomfort—too small and you could have spillage, too large and you can have pain. Catheters are sized by French size (Fr), which refers to the diameter. Sizes range from 5 to 24 Fr, and your doctor will prescribe the correct size. For most catheters, the size is denoted by the color of its funnel end. The catheters come in three lengths: male, female, pediatric, as well pocket/compact catheters. While they are grouped into these categories, there are cases where a woman might want to use a man’s length and so forth. Your doctor will help you identify exactly the right dimensions for your needs.

Foley Catheters
Foley catheters are very similar to intermittent catheters, with an additional ballon device on the internal end of the catheter that’s inflated to help hold the catheter in place.

Closed System
Closed System catheters are contained completely inside of a plastic bag, allowing you to insert the catheter without touching or contaminating the device. These sterile, intermittent catheters often include an “introducer tip” that helps the catheter to bypass the beginning of the urethra where bacteria are most often concentrated, which has been shown to reduce urinary tract infections. To further minimize contamination, there are touchless catheters that can be used with sterile lubricants.

Bags and Drainage Systems
While you may be able to empty your catheter directly into the toilet, there are options available to drain your catheter when you are not able to empty your urine. A leg bag can be worn beneath your clothing on the thigh or around the calf. These bags are available in various sizes and drain valves, allowing you to wear and dispose of the content discreetly. There are also larger sized bags that can be used overnight and either be hung low on the bed or placed on the floor, allowing gravity to help with drainage.

Additional Catheter Supplies
Beyond the pieces of your actual catheter, you may need some additional items to ensure you are maintaining proper sterilization—such as tissue papers, intravenous supplies, gauze, gloves, sanitizers, etc. You might also want some additional tools to help make the process more comfortable—holders or straps, specific lubricants, tubers, connectors, etc. Even the right bag can make the process of catheterization more comfortable and make your routine a little easier.
Your doctor will need to write a prescription to cover any specific products you need so you can begin the claims process. Each insurance company differs in the number of catheters and supplies they will cover per month and what’s available in your plan may change, but we’re here to help. There are many options on the market and your doctor (and Medipply) can help you find a solution that works for you and is covered by your insurance.