Different Catheter Types

What is a Catheter? The Different Types, Uses, & Top Brands

Catheters are some of the most commonly-used pieces of medical equipment. They come in many different forms and can have a wide range of purposes, from urinary catheters that drain urine out of the bladder to dialysis catheters for treating patients with kidney failure. In this extensive guide, we’ll look at what catheters are in great detail, examining the various types of catheters, their many uses, and some of the top brands that make and sell them.

What Is a Catheter?

A catheter is a piece of medical equipment that typically consists of a thin, flexible tube made of safe, medical-grade materials like silicone and latex. There are many different forms of catheters, and they can vary in lots of ways, such as having different numbers of lumens (or interior channels), differently shaped ends, different diameters and thicknesses, different materials, different levels of stiffness or flexibility, and so on.

What Are Catheters Used For?

Catheters are medical devices that are usually inserted into a part of the body, which could be a bodily cavity, part of the skin, a blood vessel, a piece of adipose tissue, or a duct. They offer a wide range of functions, including drainage, the administration of fluids into the body, facilitating the access of medical or surgical instruments into the body, and more. Some catheters may be used for draining urine from the bladder, while others will be used to administer IV fluids into the bloodstream.

The Different Types of Catheters And Their Uses:

As stated above, there are a lot of different kinds of catheters. And even though some catheters may resemble one another in terms of their basic designs and components, they can have wildly different uses and insertion sites, all over the body. Below, we’ll look at some of the many different varieties of catheters, from urinary catheters to IV catheters, drainage catheters, and dialysis catheters, examining their key components and primary applications.

1. Urinary Catheters 

One of the main categories of catheters is urinary catheters. As the name suggests, urinary catheters are used for treating urinary problems or assisting with urinary functions, such as the flow of urine from the bladder through the urethra and out of the body. These kinds of catheters can be key for helping patients with urinary blockages or incontinence, as well as those undergoing surgery.

a. External Catheters 

As the name suggests, external catheters are catheters that are used externally. They are not pushed or inserted into the body in any way, which makes them very different when compared to most other urinary catheters that are typically inserted directly into the patient’s urethra.

External catheters can be used by both men and women and come in different shapes and forms. For men, they may be referred to as “condom catheters” and are placed around the penis in order to collect urine as it flows out of the urethra. In women, they work in a similar way but have a different shape.

These kinds of catheters are used for patients who are able to pass urine naturally and without any pain or blockages, but may not be able to control the flow of their urine. For instance, a patient with incontinence may have an external catheter fitted.

b. Foley Catheters 

Foley catheters are some of the most common forms of urinary catheter in use around the world today. Named after the man who produced the initial design for this kind of catheter, Frederic Foley,Foley catheters consist of a flexible tube that can pass through the urethra of a patient and into their bladder to help with the draining of urine. 

Foley catheters can be made of various materials, like latex or silicon. They may also have a range of different coatings to ease insertion, and they can have one or more lumens, depending on their intended use. They also have an inflatable balloon which can be inflated with the use of sterile water to keep the catheter in place, once it has been inserted.

In terms of their uses and applications, Foley catheters are considered vital instruments in helping patients who suffer from a wide range of urinary difficulties. They can help those who find it hard or painful to pass urine normally, as well as being useful for patients who are in comas or undergoing operations.

c. Indwelling Catheters 

Indwelling catheters, or indwelling urinary catheters, are types of urinary catheters that are designed for long-term usage. As the name suggests, these kinds of catheters are supposed to dwell or remain within the patient’s body for extended periods of time. 

They differ from intermittent catheters, which are designed for shorter, one-off uses throughout the day and are usually inserted and removed quite quickly whenever the patient’s bladder needs draining. 

Like other kinds of catheters, indwelling catheters pass through the urethra to reach the bladder and allow urine to flow out from the body via the catheter’s main tube. They’re useful in treating patients who may have long-term or chronic urinary problems, as well as those in comas or recovering from surgery and injuries.

d. Intermittent Catheters 

An intermittent catheter is a type of urinary catheter that is designed to be removed after each use. These catheters, which can also be known as Robinson catheters, can be inserted, used to drain the bladder, and then removed, rather than left in place like indwelling catheters.

An intermittent catheter may vary in terms of size, length, and material, and it can have different coatings. Some intermittent catheters are classed as hydrophilic, for example, which means that they have a special coating which reacts with water to ease the insertion process. 

Unlike several other kinds of urinary catheters, intermittent catheters do not have inflatable balloons as part of their designs and therefore need to be held in place during usage. They’re useful for patients who need catheters but are otherwise active and able-bodied.

e. Suprapubic Catheters 

Suprapubic catheters, also known as SPCs, are special types of urinary catheters that are designed specifically for certain kinds of procedures, known as suprapubic cystostomy procedures. Examples of suprapubic cystostomy procedures are vesicostomies and epicystostomies. 

These kinds of procedures usually involve the formation of a new surgical connection between the bladder and the skin, creating a path through which urine can leave the body. Such procedures are useful for patients who are unable to pass urine normally. 

A suprapubic catheter, which consists of a long, flexible tube, will usually be inserted into an incision that is made around the lower part of the stomach. It has a balloon at one end to help it remain in position, and it can then be used to drain the bladder regularly for several weeks before requiring replacement.

f. Condom Catheters 

Condom catheters, as the name implies, are catheters that are shaped like condoms and designed to fit over the penis of a male patient. They’re a form of external catheter, and they’re designed for use in patients who may have incontinence or similar issues.

A condom catheter consists of a condom-shaped funnel-like structure, connected to a tube. The tube can be diverted into a toilet or connected to a collection bag. Urine flows out of the penis, into the catheter, through the tube, and then into a bag or other receptacle.

Condom catheters cannot be used for treating patients who have issues with the urethrae or other internal problems that make it hard or impossible for them to urinate, but are helpful for those who have trouble controlling their urination.

g. Hydrophilic Catheters 

Hydrophilic catheters are commonly-used urinary catheters. The most distinctive feature of these catheters is the fact that they come with their own special coating. This coating, as the name suggests, is hydrophilic, meaning that it reacts when it comes into contact with water. 

Once water connects with the coating of a hydrophilic catheter, it forms a kind of lubricant. This makes it much easier for the catheter to be inserted into the patient’s body in as painless a way as possible, as well as eliminating the need for any separate lubricants. 

Like other kinds of urinary catheters, hydrophilic catheters can be used to treat patients with various urinary problems or bladder conditions. They can also be inserted into patients who are in recovery, in a coma, or undergoing an operation.

h. Closed System Catheters 

Closed system catheters are special types of urinary catheters. More specifically, they’re part of the family of intermittent catheters. They may also be known by various other names, like no-touch catheters or touchless catheters, due to the fact that the user doesn’t actually need to touch or handle the tube itself. 

As the name suggests, a closed system catheter actually forms an entire closed system, connected to a collection bag that allows for the collection of urine as it flows. They also have narrow tips at one end to help with insertion, and once in place, they have all of the various components needed to drain and store urine.

Closed system catheters are very easy and convenient to work with, and the use of a closed system catheter can help to reduce the risk of any contamination or infection, which may be more likely with other kinds of catheters that need to be handled regularly.

i. Coudé Catheters 

Coudé catheters are a type of urinary catheter that stand out due to their unique shape. The word “coudé” means “bent” or “curved” when translated to English from French, and coudé catheters have a curved or rounded tip.

This makes them very different to standard straight-tip catheters, which have completely straight tips or ends. The curved nature of a coudé catheter can make it useful when inserting into patients who have issues like urethral blockages or unusually-shaped urethrae.

A lot of patients with these kinds of problems may experience pain if a regular straight-tip catheter is inserted into their bodies. It may even be impossible to push a straight-tip catheter into their urethra. The coudé catheter can be the answer in these situations.

j. Ureteral Catheters 

Ureteral catheters are urinary catheters that are designed to be inserted into the ureter. The ureter, or urinary tract, is a thin tube that passes between the kidney and the bladder. While most urinary catheters only enter the urethra, ureteral catheters go further and pass into the ureter. 

Like other forms of urinary catheters, ureteral catheters consist of long, hollow tubes which may be made of various materials. They can be passed through the urethra and bladder to reach the ureter, or they may be inserted through an incision in the skin. 

The main use of a ureteral catheter is to allow for long-term drainage of urine via the ureter. They can be helpful in patients who may have problems like obstructions in the urinary system. They’re also useful for guiding wires into place or delivering contrast media into the body for scans and diagnostics.

k. Urethral Catheters 

Urethral catheters are urinary catheters that are designed to be inserted into the urethra. The urethra is the tube that flows from the bladder out of the body and allows for urine to leave the body. In some patients, the urethra may be damaged or obstructed in some way, necessitating the use of an urethral catheter.

Like other kinds of catheters, urethral catheters are made up of long, flexible tubes that can simply be fed into the body through the urethra. They may be pushed all the way up to the bladder to allow urine to flow freely through the tube and into a collection bag or other receptacle.

There are various materials that can be used for urethral catheters, and they can have different lengths and different tip shapes, like straight or coudé, to suit patients with different needs.

l. Nelaton Catheters 

Nelaton catheters are a type of urinary catheter that consist of a long, hollow tube with a closed, rounded tip. The distinctive tip of this kind of catheter is often referred to as a Nelaton tip, and it features a small hole in the side that allows urine to pass through into the tube. 

Like other kinds of urinary catheters, Nelaton catheters are inserted directly into the urethra of the patient and pushed into the body until they reach the bladder. At this point, urine can flow through the tube and into a collection bag or other receptacle.

The unique Nelaton tip of a Nelaton catheter can make it useful for treating certain male patients who may have blockages or other problems with their urethrae. They’re helpful for patients who are having surgery, in comas, or struggling with urinary difficulties.

2. Drainage Catheters 

Another category of catheters is drainage catheters. These kinds of catheters are used primarily for draining fluids out of the body, rather than transporting them into the body. They can be used, for example, to drain fluids from a wound or to treat swollen areas. There are various kinds of drainage catheters, like Malecot catheters or pigtail catheters. Read on to learn more about each specific variety.

a. Malecot Catheters 

Malecot catheters are a type of drainage catheter. They were originally used for bladder drainage in female patients and were technically part of the family of urinary catheters, but the design was adapted over time to give the Malecot catheters more uses. 

Nowadays, a Malecot catheter may be used to drain a range of fluids, including thick and viscous liquids such as bile or pus from various parts of the body. 

These catheters are semi-flexible in nature and reusable. They may be made of different materials and have unique flower-shaped tips that help them stay in position once inserted.

b. Mushroom Catheters 

Mushroom catheters, which may also be referred to as mushroom drains or just mushrooms, are a type of catheter used for draining processes. They may be used, for instance, to drain abscesses or fistulas.

The most distinctive feature of a mushroom catheter is the presence of a mushroom-shaped tip at one end. This tip is also known as a flower, due to its flower-like shape, and it helps to hold the catheter in position after it has been inserted in the body.

Mushroom catheters are relatively wide, allowing for relatively thick and viscous liquids, like pus and bile, to pass through the tube. These kinds of catheters are therefore very effective and efficient when it comes to draining pus.

c. Pigtail Catheters 

A pigtail catheter is a specific, distinctive kind of drainage catheter. Also known as pigtail drains, these catheters stand out due to the presence of a curly or pigtail-shaped tip at one end of the catheter tube. 

The curly tail-like end of a pigtail catheter is a key part of the design, as it helps to secure the catheter in position inside the body once it has been inserted. This makes it hard for the catheter to accidentally fall out of position, allowing for efficient drainage. 

In terms of their uses and applications, pigtail catheters are mainly used to drain fluids from certain parts of the body that are usually difficult to access, such as the pleural cavity.

d. Pleural Catheters 

Pleural catheters, as the name implies, are catheters that are designed to be inserted and used in the pleural space. This is the space surrounding the lungs, and it can get filled with fluid. If this happens, pleural catheters can be used to drain the fluid out.

Like other kinds of drainage catheters, pleural catheters or pleural drainage catheters consist of a long, flexible tube. The tube is inserted into the body and placed in position before fluid drains out, passing into the tube and out of the body via a 1-way valve.

The main use of a pleural catheter is to get rid of excess fluid that may build up around the lungs inside the pleural cavity. Too much fluid in this area can be dangerous for patients and may lead to respiratory difficulties, so it has to be removed.

e. Suction Catheters (Delee Catheters) 

A suction catheter, also known as a DeLee catheter or DeLee suction catheter, is a specific variety of drainage catheter that has a particular purpose: it is used to manually resuscitate newborn babies. 

If a baby is born prematurely or in difficult circumstances, with excessive amounts of mucus in its windpipe or blocking its breathing in some way, a DeLee catheter may prove crucial in keeping it alive.

The catheter itself consists of a mucus trap, a whistle-tip end, and a sterile tube with a molded mouthpiece at the end. The user positions the catheter into the trachea of the infant and can then place the mouthpiece in their own mouth to suck out mucus into the mucus trap, allowing the baby to breathe.

f. Word Catheters

A Word catheter is a very specific kind of drainage catheter that is used to drain Bartholin’s abscesses. A Bartholin’s abscess is a type of abscess which may form around the Bartholin’s glands on either side of the entrance to the vagina.

These glands produce lubrication which passes into the vagina via small ducts, but the ducts can get blocked, causing fluid build-ups that may turn into abscesses. The Word catheter can be inserted into such abscesses to drain out the excess fluid.

Word catheters are long, flexible tubes with inflatable balloons at one end to help them stay in place.

3. Dialysis Catheters 

There are also dialysis catheters. As the name suggests, these kinds of catheters are used for the process of dialysis, which is a common treatment method for patients with kidney failure or conditions like diabetes. Some examples of dialysis catheters include the likes of palindrome catheters and Mahurkar catheters, and these instruments can be crucial in helping patients who aren’t able to benefit from regular kidney functions.

a. Mahurkar Catheters 

A Mahurkar catheter is a particular kind of hemodialysis catheter. It consists of a large tube which is semi-flexible in nature. The tube has two lumens for connection to the two ports of a dialysis machine at one end, and the other end is pushed through the skin and into the bloodstream. 

One of the lumens in the Mahurkar catheter is venous, while the other is arterial. The venous lumen transports clean blood into the body of the patient, while the arterial lumen draws it out and into the dialysis machine for cleaning. 

There are various sizes and flow rates of Mahurkar catheters, and they’re crucial pieces of medical equipment when it comes to dialysis and treatment of patients with diabetes, blood disorders, and kidney problems.

b. Palindrome Catheters

A palindrome catheter is another kind of catheter that is used for dialysis purposes. These catheters consist of a long tube that has two channels, or lumens. One of the lumens is arterial and used to draw blood out of the body, while the other is venous and transports blood back into the body. 

Like other kinds of dialysis catheters, palindrome catheters can be easily connected to dialysis machines. They are typically inserted into major blood vessels and will be left in place for extended periods of time while the dialysis procedure takes place. 

In terms of usage and treatment, palindrome catheters are key tools when it comes to treating patients who are suffering from various kidney problems, as they work with dialysis machines to provide kidney functions outside the body.

c. Quinton Catheters

Quinton catheters are a specific kind of urinary catheter that consist of long, hollow tubes. They’re named after the man who invented them, Wayne Everett Quinton. Quinton’s work was instrumental in the 20th century in terms of developing tools and methods for kidney dialysis. 

The Quinton catheter was one of his greatest accomplishments, and this catheter is still being used today to provide dialysis treatment for patients who suffer from kidney problems. They’re also used for infusing liquids into a patient’s body.

Quinton catheters are mainly used in situations when patients need to have temporary hemodialysis but peripheral IV access and the use of peripheral catheters is not possible. For example, if a patient suffers from burns or trauma on the skin, a Quinton catheter may be the best option.

4. IV Catheters 

Another big group of catheters are IV catheters. These catheters are used for intravenous treatments and therapies, in which fluids like medications or even blood are transported directly into the bloodstream. IV catheters are usually inserted into the skin in places like the wrist, arm, chest, and neck in order to enter veins and feed fluids straight into the body. See below for more details about some of the most commonly-used kinds of IV catheters.

a. Central Venous Catheters 

A central venous catheter, which is commonly referred to as a CVC, is one of the most-used kinds of IV catheter. It has many other names, including central line and central venous access catheter, and it’s one of the main forms of venous access used in hospitals and clinics across the globe. 

Central venous catheters are typically made from silicone or polyurethane and may have one or more lumens. They’re usually inserted into a major vein somewhere in the neck, chest, groin, or in the arms, although other locations may sometimes be used. 

In terms of their usage, central venous catheters or CVCs are mainly used for administering medications or fluids directly into the blood when those fluids would be too thick for smaller veins or impossible to take by mouth. CVCs can also be used for blood tests, blood pressure volume measurements, and more.

b. Peripheral Venous Catheters 

A peripheral venous catheter, which can also be known as a peripheral IV catheter, a PVC, or a PIVC, is another type of catheter used for intravenous treatment. And as the name suggests, this kind of catheter is designed to be used in the peripheral veins (all of the veins located outside of the chest and abdomen). 

Common insertion sites for peripheral venous catheters include the hand or arm, and they consist of a sharp needle tip which punctures the skin and passes directly into the vein, guiding the catheter tube into position. 

Once they are in position, peripheral IV catheters can be used to administer various medications or fluids into the patient’s body. They can also be used to draw blood or to deliver blood into the body.

c. Angiocatheters 

An angiocatheter, also known commonly in the medical world as an “angiocath”, is a type of catheter that is used for introducing contrast dyes into various parts of the body. They are very useful for diagnostic and testing purposes. 

Like other kinds of catheter, an angiocatheter consists of a long, thin tube and has a sharp needle at one end. The needle pierces the skin and passes into a blood vessel. 

From there, the catheter can be used to feed contrast dye into the bloodstream. This can be very useful when carrying out scans like angiograms, which are diagnostic tests of blood pressure and blood flow within the heart.

d. Arterial Catheters 

An arterial catheter, as the name suggests, is a specific kind of IV catheter that is designed to be inserted into an artery. The arteries are the blood vessels responsible for taking blood away from the heart around the body to muscles and organs. 

Arterial catheters differ from other kinds of IV catheters, like central venous catheters, which are designed primarily for entry into veins. However, in terms of their general shape and design, arterial catheters are a lot like venous catheters, consisting of long, thin tubes. 

When it comes to usage and purpose, arterial catheters are very commonly used for measuring blood pressure. They can provide much more accurate blood pressure measurements than other devices, like blood pressure cuffs. They’re also useful for collecting blood samples.

e. Femoral Catheters 

As the name suggests, a femoral catheter is one that is specifically designed for insertion into the femoral vein, which is one of the largest and most important blood vessels in the entire body. 

Femoral catheters are examples of venous catheters. They consist of long, hollow tubes that may be divided into multiple lumens and have various ports or connectors at one end, with a needle at the other end to aid with insertion.

The femoral catheter has to be inserted with great care to not damage the large femoral vein. Once in position, these catheters can be used to administer various fluids and medications into the body that may not be taken orally or are too viscous for insertion into other, smaller blood vessels. They’re also helpful for conducting blood pressure tests.

f. Groshong Catheters 

A Groshong catheter is a specific variety of intravenous or IV catheter. It’s used to gain central venous access, and this kind of catheter is named after the man who invented it: LeRoy Groshong, MD, who is an oncologist from Oregon.

Groshong catheters consist of a long, hollow tube with a narrow tip at one end. The tip is inserted through the skin and into the superior vena cava in the chest. The other end of the catheter has a three-way valve which can be opened and closed to allow for blood and fluids to flow in and out.

There are multiple ways in which Groshong catheters may be used and various benefits when working with these kinds of catheters. They’re very useful for taking blood samples from patients or monitoring blood pressure and flow in the vena cava.

g. Hickman Catheters 

A Hickman catheter, also known as a Hickman line, is a specific kind of central venous catheter, or CVC. Some of the most commonly-used IV catheters in many parts of the world, Hickman catheters are very useful for administering chemotherapy medications and other drugs. 

The name for Hickman catheters comes from their inventor: Robert O. Hickman. Hickman took an existing design made by Dr. John Broviac and improved it in various ways. 

A Hickman line is usually tunneled under the skin in the chest, allowing the catheter itself to pass into the superior vena cava, not far from the right atrium of the heart. Once in place, Hickman catheters can be used for delivering medications or even for parenteral nutrition.

h. Umbilical Catheters

An umbilical catheter is a specific kind of IV catheter with a very unique purpose: as the name suggests, these kinds of catheters are designed to be inserted into the blood vessels that flow through the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. 

Like other kinds of catheters, umbilical catheters consist of long, flexible, hollow tubes that may be divided into multiple lumen, or channels. They’re quite small and narrow, due to the fact that they’re used in very small blood vessels. 

These kinds of catheters can be crucial in terms of treating prematurely born babies and other infants, allowing for fluids and medications to flow into the baby via the umbilical cord, without the need for repeated injections or needles in the baby’s body.

5. Biliary Catheters 

Biliary catheters are another very specific kind of catheter. They may also be known as biliary stents or biliary drains, and they’re used exclusively for draining bile out of the body. 

Bile is a fluid that is produced by the liver and used for digestive purposes, but sometimes, too much of it can build up. In situations where there are excessive amounts of bile within the body, biliary catheters can be used to help drain it out.

A biliary catheter will usually have a series of holes along the sides. These holes allow bile to pass into the catheter and then drain out of the body. The catheter itself is typically inserted directly into the liver, passing through the skin, and connected to a bag that collects the bile as it drains out.

6. Airway Exchange Catheters 

Airway exchange catheters are another category of catheters used during certain medical procedures. As the name suggests, these catheters are aimed at facilitating the process of exchanging airways, otherwise known as endotracheal tubes, or ETTs. 

ETTs are passed into patients’ tracheae to help them breathe and provide adequate oxygen flow throughout the body. Sometimes, ETTs need to be changed, but the patient still requires assistance with their breathing, and airway exchange catheters help with this.

The catheter is placed into the existing ETT to provide a conduit for the flow of air and oxygen. Then, the ETT can be removed and exchanged for another, without interrupting the flow of oxygen to the patient.

7. Embolectomy Catheters (Fogarty Catheters) 

An embolectomy catheter, otherwise known as a Fogarty catheter (due to the fact that it was invented by a man named Dr. Thomas Fogarty) are specific kinds of catheters used in embolectomy procedures. 

An embolectomy is a medical procedure that is carried out in order to remove emboli, which are small masses that can form in blood vessels. Embolectomies are crucial for getting rid of these masses in the safest possible way. 

Typically, the Fogarty catheter will be inserted directly into the blood vessel. A balloon at the end of the catheter can then be inflated to help push the blockage away and clear the vessel to allow blood to flow.

8. Epidural Catheters 

Epidural catheters, which can also be referred to as spinal catheters, are special kinds of catheters that are used exclusively for epidural procedures. An epidural is when anesthesia is injected into the epidural space of a patient. 

Epidurals are useful anesthesia procedures and are often given to pregnant women who are about to deliver their babies. The epidural catheter serves as the conduit to transport the anesthesia fluid into the body.

Due to the way in which epidurals are carried out and the delicate nature of the epidural space, epidural catheters are very narrow, reducing the risk of any unwanted injuries during insertion.

9. HSG Catheters 

An HSG catheter, otherwise known as a hysterosalpingography catheter, is a specific kind of catheter used exclusively during hysterosalpingography procedures. A hysterosalpingography involves using X-rays to scan a woman’s uterus and Fallopian tubes. 

Usually, hysterosalpingography procedures are done to detect any blockages in the Fallopian tubes or other problems in and around the uterus. The HSG catheter plays a crucial part in the procedure, as it injects dye into the body, helping the area show up more clearly on the X-ray scan. 

The HSG catheter will be inserted into the patient’s body via the vagina and cervix. Therefore, it does not require the use of needles, and it doesn’t have to pass through the skin.

10. Insemination Catheters 

An insemination catheter is yet another kind of catheter, consisting of a single-lumen tube, potentially with a straight or rounded tip. These catheters can vary in terms of their flexibility and are used exclusively in female patients to aid with insemination. 

Specifically, an insemination catheter will be used during an intrauterine insemination procedure, in which a washed semen sample is injected directly into the patient’s cervix, with the aim of achieving fertilization. 

This kind of procedure can be used for patients who are struggling to conceive naturally due to fertility issues or other problems. The catheters themselves may have slightly different shapes and firmness levels to suit patients with different needs and body types.

11. Irrigation Catheters

Irrigation catheters are kinds of catheters that are used for irrigation purposes. Specifically, they’re used for irrigating the bladder. Bladder irrigation is a procedure that is often carried out after bladder surgery. 

The irrigation catheter is a vital instrument in any bladder irrigation procedure. Like other kinds of catheters, it consists of a long, flexible tube with a narrow tip and is inserted into the urethra, pushed into the body until it reaches the bladder. 

Once in place, the irrigation syringe can be used to flush fluid into the bladder to clean it. This can be done for patients who are dealing with a wide range of different urinary or bladder conditions or disorders.

Other Catheter Terminology

The above list is not exhaustive, as there are still other kinds of catheters that you may need to be aware of. There are also certain terms and phrases that are often used when talking about catheters, like “balloon catheters” or “peritoneal catheters”. Below, we’ll provide some key information about other types of catheters and pieces of catheter terminology that medical students and practitioners need to know about.

Balloon Catheters 

The term “balloon catheter” may be used for any kind of catheter which has a small inflatable section, otherwise known as a balloon, at one end. A lot of different kinds of catheters can have balloons on them, including catheters used for cardiology and urology. 

The purpose of the balloon is to actually hold the catheter in position, once it has been inserted. After insertion, a syringe can be used on the end of the catheter that is outside the body, feeding fluid through one of the lumens and into the balloon, which then inflates.

Once inflated, the balloon forms a kind of anchor inside the body, in a blood vessel or tube like the urethra. This helps to secure the catheter in position and prevents it moving around or slipping out, reducing the risk of injuries.

Berman Catheters 

Berman catheters, which may also be known as Berman angiographic catheters, are a type of catheter named after Michael A. Berman. They are used in angiography procedures, which are carried out in order to check and monitor the health of the cardiovascular system.

Typically, Berman catheters have a dual-lumen design and are also equipped with an inflatable balloon at one end. They are inserted into the patient’s body via a vein and are typically used to inject colored dye into the blood. 

The injection of dye helps the vessels and heart show up more clearly on X-ray images, and Berman catheters can also be used for other procedures, like checking blood pressure in the heart.

Percutaneous Catheters 

The word “percutaneous” refers to anything that is affected through the skin. So, when we talk about percutaneous catheters and percutaneous catheter insertion procedures, this basically refers to any kind of catheter that is inserted through the skin.

There are therefore lots of different kinds of percutaneous catheters, and many different forms of dialysis and IV catheters are percutaneous in nature. Typically, these catheters have to be inserted with the aid of needles or passed through incisions that are made in the skin.

Percutaneous catheters can be inserted in many different parts of the body, from the back to the wrist, and they may be used for various processes, like drainage, injection of dye, transfusion of fluids, and so on.

Peritoneal Catheters 

In the medical world, the word “peritoneal” refers to anything that is connected with the parietal peritoneum, which is tissue lining the inside of the abdominal wall, or visceral peritoneum, which is tissue that covers a lot of organs inside the abdomen, like the intestines.

So, when we talk about peritoneal catheters, this family includes all catheters that are designed to be inserted through the skin and into the peritoneal cavity, delivering various fluids and medications into the body, or draining fluids out of the peritoneal or abdominal spaces.

There are various kinds of peritoneal catheters and they can have a range of uses. It’s quite common for them to be used in treating cancer patients, as they’re ideal for transferring cancer-treating drugs into the body. They can also be used for dialysis and more.

Swan Ganz Catheters 

Swan Ganz catheters are another kind of catheter, named after the two men who invented them: Jeremy Swan and William Ganz. These catheters may also be referred to as “pulmonary artery catheters” and have very specific uses and insertion methods.

A Swan Ganz catheter usually has multiple lumens, and it’s not uncommon for them to have five or more lumens in total. They also usually come with inflatable balloon tips that can be helpful for keeping the catheter in position, once inserted.

These catheters are primarily used for diagnostic purposes. They’re helpful for testing and checking on the heart and circulatory system, especially in patients who may have suffered heart failure or other heart conditions like valvular heart disease.

Tunneled Catheters

A tunneled catheter, as the name suggests, is a catheter that is tunneled into the body. It passes through a tunnel formed under the skin. There are several kinds of catheters which may be tunneled, including central venous catheters and Hickman catheters. 

These catheters differ from non-tunneled catheters, which are inserted in a different way. The advantage of using a tunneled catheter is that it can be left in place for long periods of time and used for long-term treatment, without the need for the patient to undergo multiple injections and insertions.

Tunneled catheters may have a range of uses but are generally best-used for transferring fluids and medication into the body when a patient needs long-term treatment. They’re often used for cancer patients, providing a simple way for chemotherapy drugs to pass into the body.

The Leading Catheter Brands and Manufacturers

There are many different brands and manufacturers in the medical world who specialize in catheters or have extensive catheter collections. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the top catheter brands from around the world.

C.R. Bard 

C. R. Bard, also known simply as Bard, is one of the top manufacturers and developers of medical products and technologies. Specializing in the fields of urology, vascular care, and oncology, C. R. Bard is based in Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA. 

The company introduced the Foley catheter to the world back in the 1930s and was responsible for many other innovations in catheters, like the creation of the Bipolar Temporary Pacing catheter and the very first latex balloon catheter.

Cook Medical 

Cook Medical, also known as the Cook Group, is another American medical company. It is based in Bloomington, Indiana, and was founded in 1963. The company has been consistently ranked as one of the most valuable and largest privately-held companies in America. 

Some of the earliest products that Cook Medical ever produced were catheters, and the company has become known for its varied catheter collection, including the likes of urinary catheters, balloon catheters, biliary catheters, and more.

B Braun 

B Braun, also known as B Braun Medical Inc, is a medical company that is based in Melsungen, Germany. The company has employees and offices all over the globe and is one of the biggest names in the medical industry, producing over 5,000 unique medical products. 

B Braun produces a lot of high quality peripheral IV catheters, as well as safety IV catheters, anesthesia catheters, winged catheters, and more. The brand is known for its focus on products that are as safe as possible to use.


Coloplast is another of the top providers of medical catheters. This company is based in the area of Humlebaek in Denmark. It’s a multinational company, with offices and employees around the world, and it was founded in 1957, specializing in fields of urology, continence, wound care, and ostomy. 

From straight catheters to coudé catheters, Coloplast produces a wide and varied selection of products. It’s also known for the SpeediCath range of catheters, which are specially designed for the most rapid and convenient insertion possible.


Covidien is a catheter brand that was originally founded in Ireland. It was created in the Irish capital of Dublin and founded back in 2007. It was originally part of Tyco International but split from the company, before later merging with Medtronic in 2015. 

Still based in Ireland, the Covidien brand name can be found on a huge range of different medical catheters. Some of the main kinds of catheter that this brand focuses on include urinary and Foley catheters, as well as rubber catheters, closed system catheters, and latex catheters.


Hollister is one of the oldest catheter companies in the world, with history dating back over a century. The company was founded as Hollister Incorporated in Illinois, United States, back in 1921. It has since expanded all over the world. 

Hollister focuses on various fields of healthcare, including continence care products like various forms of urinary catheters. This company creates some of the finest intermittent catheters, as well as external or condom catheters.


Atrium, otherwise known by the longer name of Atrium Medical Corporation, is one of the newer brands in the world of medical products and catheters in particular. This company is based in the US, in the state of New Hampshire, specifically, and it’s famed for its innovative and modern products. 

Some of the main types of catheter produced by Atrium Medical Corporation include peripheral catheters, thoracic catheters, and IV catheters.


BD, which is also known as Becton, Dickinson and Company, is one of the leading brands in the medical world. It was founded in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States back in 1897 and is still headquartered in New Jersey, famed for its wide range of medical devices and instruments. 

BD produces a good range of peripheral catheters and other forms of IV catheters, with brand names like Insyte and Nexiva.

Axiom Medical 

Axiom Medical is another leading brand of catheters with a lot of experience. This company is based in Spring, Texas, United States and is regarded as a growing brand in the field of innovative medical instruments. 

Axiom specializes in thoracic silicone catheters, but also produces other kinds of thoracic catheters, drainage catheters, and intrapleural anesthesia catheters.

Edwards Lifesciences

Edwards Lifesciences is another American medical products and technology company. It was founded in 1958 and is based in Irvine, California. This company is known for its specializations in products related to heart valves and blood monitoring. 

Some of the catheters that are currently manufactured by Edwards Lifesciences include pulmonary artery catheters, balloon catheters, and central venous catheters, or CVCs.

Where Can I Buy Catheters From These Top Brands?

If you’re interested in purchasing catheters from the best brands in the business, like B Braun, Covidien, and Axiom Medical, CIA Medical is the place to be. As one of the leading providers of wholesale medical supplies and equipment, we have a vast range of top quality catheters in all of their different forms and sizes. From urinary catheters to dialysis catheters and more, you can find all you need at CIA Medical, with the best prices and industry-leading service.

About the Author: CIA Medical

Central Infusion Alliance, Inc. (CIA Medical) is an innovative and customer-oriented medical supply company serving a broad range of medical professionals and organizations. Learn more about CIA Medical.