Since the introduction of clean intermittent catheterization as an alternate way to drain the bladder, there have been many advances in cathing techniques as well as new types of catheter products.
No-touch catheterization techniques and no-touch catheters have become increasingly popular over the years. This is likely due to the convenience and independence these products can offer, as well as a way to reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs).
UTIs and CAUTIs can be an issue for many people who perform intermittent self-catheterization, which is why sterility is most often at the top of the list of most important things to consider when deciding which intermittent catheter type is right for you.
WHAT IS A NO-TOUCH CATHETER?
A no-touch catheter, also known as a touch-free catheter or touchless catheter, is a urinary catheter that can be inserted without the user having to directly touch the catheter tube (the portion of the catheter system that is inserted into the urethra).
No-touch catheters have been available on the market for several years; however, they are generally called closed system catheters or sterile catheter kits.
Closed system catheters are either pre-lubricated or have a hydrophilic coating that is easily activated by sterile water to become lubricated. What makes a no-touch closed system catheter truly unique is that it is an all-in-one option that is housed inside its own sterile collection bag. The catheter tube can be easily manipulated and advanced forward to insert into the urethra without touching it, which minimizes the risk of contamination from the hands.
Another benefit of closed system catheters is that the majority of them come with what is known as an introducer tip. The introducer tip is usually a pre-lubricated, soft, flexible cover that shields the tip of the actual catheter tube and helps it bypass the first short section of the urethra where the highest concentrations of bacteria can be found. This also does its part in potentially reducing the risk of contracting a UTI.
Many brands of closed systems will come packaged with additional insertion supplies that can make the cathing process even more hygienic. This may include items like gloves and antiseptic wipes.
WHY SHOULD I USE A NO-TOUCH CATHETER?
There are many reasons why using a no-touch catheter might be the best option for you, depending on your lifestyle, preferences, and needs.
Of course, the added protection against contamination from touching and bacteria, as mentioned above, is a huge reason why many people prefer and chose to use no-touch catheters.
Touch-free catheterization has been shown to be incredibly effective at preventing the onset of catheter associated UTIs in spinal cord injured people. Clinical studies have shown the use of a no-touch catheter is associated with a 30% UTI reduction and general low UTI rates of .68% in a study conducted with spinal cord injured people.
Medicare may also cover these advanced catheter products for catheters users who have experienced two or more documented urinary tract infections (UTIs) within a single year while using sterile straight intermittent catheters and sterile lubrication packets.
In hospitals, the introduction of no-touch catheter systems and techniques has been well accepted by both caregivers and patients, and has not been associated with higher costs. On the contrary, it has actually reduced costs while saving time and reducing infection complications in general, according to Clinical studies.
NO-TOUCH CATHETER OPTIONS
There are a few different options when it comes to choosing a no-touch catheter system, depending on your insurance coverage. If your insurance policy does not currently cover closed system catheters, which are billed under HCPC code A4353, you may still be able to qualify for a hydrophilic catheter.
Here are the two main options of no-touch catheters:
Closed System Catheters
Closed system catheters are the preferred cathing system for many, including people in wheelchairs, children, and those frequently travel, work, or go to school. This is because of their convenience as well as the ability to reduce the risk of infection with the all-in-one system and introducer tip, which helps minimize the risk of contamination or pushing harmful bacteria into the bladder. One of the most popular closed system catheters on the market is the Bard Touchless Plus kit, which features a patented catheter guide, allowing for better control during insertion.
Hydrophilic catheters come pre-hydrated and ready to use, or they can be easily activated by an included sterile water packet. Once it’s ready to use, the catheter stays optimally lubricated and offers a more comfortable, smooth insertion. Hydrophilic catheters work to minimize urethral friction, which can also help reduce the risk of infection. Most hydrophilic catheters are considered no-touch catheters, thanks to included handling sleeves that keep your hands off of the catheter tube and help guide the catheter into the urethra. You may be interested in the popular GentleCath™ Glide, a no-touch hydrophilic catheter for both males and females. It was created specifically to make cathing more comfortable and reduce the mess sometimes left behind by alternate brands of hydrophilic catheters.
Intermittent straight catheters are not typically considered no-touch catheters, but there are cathing techniques which can reduce the risk of contamination from your hands, such as using gloves and antiseptic wipes during your catheterization routine.
Still not sure which catheter option is right for you? Contact us today and speak with a trained catheter specialist who can help you decide which intermittent catheter is best for your unique circumstances. Your health is too important to risk not using the right catheter product.
Disclaimer: Please note that this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is only intended to provide a general understanding of the potential risks of reusing catheters according to research. This information should not be used in place of the recommendations and medical advice of your professional healthcare provider.
Sources:Bennett CJ, Young MN and Darrington H. PubMed. 1995.
Bennett CJ, Young MN, Razi SS, Adkins R, Diaz F, McCrary A. PubMed. 1997.
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About the Author:
Amy is the Web Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical. Her favorite thing about working at 180 Medical is being part of a company that is truly committed to improving the lives of its customers. When she's not at work she enjoys traveling, kayaking, rock climbing, and spending time with her husband and three, incredible stepkids.