Intermittent catheters (IC) are a small hollow tube that is inserted into the urethra when the bladder requires emptying. After the bladder is drained the catheter is removed until it needs to be emptied again.
This is the preferred way of managing your bladder and has the least complications. Another advantage is that nothing is attached to your body.
People who use IC need to pay attention to their fluid intake and make sure the catheters are done on time to avoid overfilling their bladder which can lead to other problems.
Why do we start with intermittent catheters?
Nursing staff use intermittent catheters as early as possible, to make sure your bladder is in the best health during spinal shock. You are also less likely to get a bladder infection.
How do I use intermittent catheters?
You will need to use your IC every 4 to 6 hours but this may vary depending on how much you drink, how your body processes fluid, and how your bladder behaves when it has urine in it. It’s a good idea to discuss the frequency of catheters with your urology nurse and work out a schedule that best suits you.
An easy way to monitor your fluid intake is to complete a fluid balance diary. Once you have completed your diary, share it with your spinal urology nurse or health care provider.
What complications can occur?
Although IC is the safest method of bladder emptying for SCI bladders, some complications can still occur.
You need to keep an eye out for: