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A straight catheter is a tube-shaped medical device that is used to remove urine from a person's bladder if he or she is having trouble voiding naturally. This type of catheter is made of rubber and is flexible in nature. When a person can not void, a doctor inserts a catheter into the urethra to drain urine from the bladder. A straight catheter is meant for temporary use and is removed and disposed of or sterilized immediately after the urine is taken from a patient. It should not be confused with a specialized catheter, which stays in the body for several days.
If a patient is having trouble passing urine and a doctor needs a urine sample to test for kidney problems or a urinary tract infection, a one-time catheterization can be done. When a patient has chronic urinary issues, a doctor might give the patient a straight catheter to take home to perform multiple self-catheterizations. A person might need to do this process at home to collect multiple urine samples or to relieve bladder pain and pressure if he or she can not urinate naturally.
Home catheterization needs to be done carefully, especially for women, because the urethra and anus are located close together. It is vital for a woman to clean her hands and vaginal region thoroughly before using a catheter, to avoid infection. Disposable, one-time-use catheters have become more popular because they help decrease the chance of urinary infections.
Interstitial cystitis is a chronic and painful bladder disorder. Patients who suffer from this illness have inflamed bladders even though no infection is present. One major symptom of interstitial cystitis is frequent urination in small amounts. Many interstitial cystitis patients also have issues with pelvic floor muscle spasms, so there might be times when a patient feels the painful need to void immediately but no urine is coming out naturally. Some interstitial cystitis patients might keep disposable straight catheters at home for use in this type of situation to avoid emergency room visits.
A straight catheter is also a helpful tool for doctors who treat interstitial cystitis patients. A doctor can use a catheter to insert dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) directly into the bladder through the urethra to help reduce inflammation. This procedure normally is done in a urologist's office. Patients who have experience using a catheter might eventually be given permission to perform their own bladder installations at home.