Uncoated vs. Hydrophilic Catheters: What’s the Difference?

Uncoated vs. Hydrophilic Catheters: What’s the Difference?

Catheters and catheter supplies are needed when a person cannot empty their bladder on their own, has urinary incontinence, has major surgery, or has another health concern. An intermittent catheter is inserted into the urethra until it reaches the bladder to drain urine into a toilet, urine drainage bag, or another collection device. When using intermittent catheters, it is critical to minimize trauma to the body upon insertion. By choosing a catheter and catheter supplies that make the catheter slippery before insertion, self-catheterization can be a more comfortable and safe experience. The two general choices for intermittent catheters are uncoated catheters and hydrophilic catheters. We’ll discuss the differences now.

Uncoated Catheters

McKesson Straight Uncoated CatheterAn uncoated catheter is an intermittent catheter with no lubrication or special coating on the surface. Uncoated catheters are considered traditional and require lubrication to be applied before insertion to prevent trauma to the urethra. Men have longer urethras leading to the bladder, so it is essential to lubricate the intermittent catheter to slide smoothly into the entire length of the urethra and into the bladder. Without sufficient lubrication, the uncoated catheter can injure the walls of the urethra.

Using an Uncoated Catheter

Surgilube lubricant packetsCatheter lubricants are catheter supplies that you will need when using an uncoated catheter, and there are many different brands to choose from. Most are water-soluble, make less of a mess, and provide smooth and easy insertion. Some popular catheter lubricants are SurgilubeHR PharmaAplicare, and Cardinal Health Lubricating Jelly.

Hydrophilic Catheters

GentleCath Hydrophilic Female CatheterMaterials that are attracted to water and mix well with it are known as hydrophilic. The term hydrophilic means “water-loving.” If an intermittent catheter has a unique hydrophilic coating, the surface of the entire length of the catheter becomes smooth and slippery when it comes in contact with water. Additional catheter lubricant isn’t needed when using a hydrophilic catheter, and the coating stays in place upon insertion and removal.

Using a Hydrophilic Catheter

Hydrophilic catheters can be packaged in their own sterile water solution, already activated, or packaged with an included water packet or sachet. A hydrophilic catheter with a water packet must be activated before use to make the catheter smooth and slippery. The water packet must first be folded using pressure from the fingers and burst to release the sterile solution within the package to activate the catheter. Then, the catheter sits in this solution for approximately 15 to 30 seconds to activate the lubrication coating for immediate use.

fingers breaking the water packet inside of a hydrophilic catheter package to activate the lubrication coating

Choosing Which Catheter to Use

Choosing a suitable intermittent catheter and catheter supplies ultimately comes down to comfort, ease of use, and safety. At Personally Delivered, we carry a variety of uncoated catheters, hydrophilic catheters, and other quality catheter supplies for a comfortable self-catheterization experience. Be sure to speak with your urologist about their recommendations for your unique needs. And if you need assistance finding your prescribed intermittent catheter, our Product Experts are here to help.

Remember, all catheters require a prescription from your doctor. When ordering catheter supplies on our website, you can easily upload your prescription after creating an online account. For more information on uploading your prescription, visit the Account Help section in the Account Menu options once logged in.

Popular Uncoated & Hydrophilic Catheters

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