Query About Catheter Sizes

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puternut | 23:44 Sun 24th Jan 2016 | Body & Soul
8 Answers
As some may recall in 2013/14 I had an incident where I was found to holding a massive amount of urine in my bladdder (about 2 litres) which became infected and resulted in massive infection and 2 or 3 weeks hospitalisation with IV antibiotics.

Upshot is and after many trials I am now a long term urethral catheter user. After a period of spasms from the catheter my urologist decide to use a smaller catheter dropping from a 16 Ch/5.3 mm. to a 12 Ch/3.3 mm. This has indeed greatly eased (but not eradicated) the spasms but might have created another in that I am really unsure if the total length of the catheter or more accuratly the position of the inflatable 'fixing' balloon is different/smaller.

The reason I am asking is that since the smaller one has been fitted I feel I have more problems with the actual catheter slipping down the urethra and causing it to block, give pain or generally play up.

The size 16's needed pushing in as far as possible before the balloon was inflated and similarly the size 12. This was because I seem to have a urethra on the longer side of average.

I am due to see the urologist but not until March and I do not like calling in the District Nurse up to 3 times a week on this matter.

Any advice greatly appreciated.


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Does your surgery have a continence promotion service? I would ask the district nurse about this if you feel you can, either that or call the surgery but it might be easier to talk to the DN than a receptionist and I am assuming that its not easy for you to get out of the house? You certainly want to get it sorted because the blocking and playing up won’t be good for the well being of your bladder generally. I wouldn’t leave it until march.
Hi Puter - you are very clear and well informed about the issues, but I feel you really do need to speak to the nurse until your next appointment. maybe a temporary solution can be found.

Please note , my avatar is purely fancy dress but my husband had similar issues, so answer is based on experience.
The volume of the balloon should be on the side of the catheter that is on the outside. It should be much larger than the diameter of your urethra

Usually you blow up the balloon as it is as far as humanly possible to be in the bladder and then pull it down so the balloon sits at the junction of the bladder and the beginning of the urethra. It will take up this position anyway. The balloon is too large to be in any part of the urethra and the catheter tube goes thro the balloon - think cored apple

I can understand you are having trouble with the catheter
and is directly related to the episode of over stretching of the bladder in 2013 and I think it is back to the district nurse to be honest

Sqad may input

They all seem to be 43 cm ( adult ones)
I am not sure what you mean by "spasms from my catheter" you mean pain in your urethra?

It may well be that the balloon is in the urethra rather than in the bladder neck. I would agree that you need to see the district nurse again.
Question Author
Many thanks for the input. I might have a word with the DN when she next calls but speaking with the Dr might be better. Two reasons why not the DN.Theoretically she wont be here for 6 weeks and also they do seem to come from various practices so do not seem to be all aufait (sic) with each others sytems. This is especially true of the night time staff who cover a greater area.

IAs faras I am aware the balloon on all cathers is the same size as they all come with a loaded syringe (10ml) with sterilised water to fill it once it is required. Your info regarding them all being 43 is useful Peter - thanks.

Sqad the pain ("spasms from my catheter")I have is, as far as I can tell, just about where you might expect it to be - in respect of the balloon -that it is some distance inside the urethra but not in the bladder itself. The spasms at their worst were about 15-30 seconds long and 15-30 minutes apart (24 hours). They are now dow to a handful a day.

One thing I forgot to mention is that due to an enlaged prostate I have also
had the urethra surgically 'scraped' to ensure it is of sufficient size. This does I understand also make the neck at the bladder end a little larger and might be scarred??

So finally thanks for the the advice. Seems I might be wrong as regards the balloon being in a different position and I Have found myself that they appear to be of a uniform size. I wikll try to speak with a DN or my GP on this matter.
Question Author
Apologies for the typos Need an edit button. :)
I hope you feel more comfortable soon ,puter
Supported a gentleman with a catheter and so did a lot of research. From what I could gather you want to promote a more acidic urine so drink orange juice as this prevents debris. We gave the gentleman cranberry juice as a preventive measure which I disputed as there was no research to suggest it worked but when we stopped it problems would occur. When we reinstated these disappeared.

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