Intermittent self-catheterisation (ISC) is a safe and effective method used to empty the bladder. It involves the patient inserting a catheter (tube) via the urethra into the bladder to drain the urine from their bladder. It is recommended for patients with urinary retention or incomplete bladder emptying.
The benefits of ISC include:
The two main types of catheters that are used for ISC are:
Coated catheters: These are single use sterile catheters and must be disposed after each use. These catheters have either a hydrophilic coating or a gel coating on them. Catheters with hydrophilic coating must be pre-soaked in water to activate the slippery coating prior to use.
Uncoated catheters: These are made of plastic and can be washed and reused for a week. They do not require any pre-soaking prior to use. They can be stored in a clean container between uses.
The choice of catheter depends on the patient’s preference, ease of use, lifestyle of the patient and the underlying bladder problems.
ISC is not painful but may have slight discomfort initially due to anxiety. Most people can learn about performing ISC with the help of a nurse or continence advisor. Make sure to always wash your hands before ISC. If you have a burning sensation or the urine is bloody, cloudy, strong smelling or dark you should consult a doctor immediately as these are signs of infection.