Uncoated vs. Pre-Lubricated vs. Hydrophilic Catheters: Which Is the Right Choice For You?
If you’ve been living with urinary retention or neurogenic incontinence, your doctor has probably prescribed the use of an intermittent catheter to empty your bladder. Lubricating the catheter prior to insertion is the key to minimizing discomfort while self-cathing.
Patients nowadays have three primary options: uncoated, pre-lubricated, or hydrophilic catheters. What are the differences, and how do you know which is the right choice for you?
Uncoated intermittent catheters are the standard and most common you’ll find. These allow you to lubricate the catheter yourself so that you can better control the amount that’s applied. A sterile lubricant like Surgilube is a common recommendation our Treatment Specialists make.
Pre-lubricated catheters are covered in a gel-like, sterile lubricant. They are single-use and ready to go right out of the packaging. Here at RA Fischer, we carry the Cure Ultra catheter, which is coated in a “no drip” lubricant.
Another design benefit of the Cure Ultra catheter is the no-roll funnel. This allows you to place your catheter down on a flat sterile surface – such as an underpad (included in our Home Kits) – without it rolling off. The texture of the Cure Ultra funnel as well as the texture of the gripper sleeve works well even if you deal with dexterity issues in your hands.
Hydrophilic catheters feature a proprietary coating that reacts to water, self-lubricating the catheter within the unopened packaging. The catheter remains lubricated throughout the self-cathing experience.
There are two types of hydrophilic catheters:
- Packet Breaking. Simply fold the packaging to break a packet of the sterile solution, coating the catheter. Just wait 30 seconds for the lubrication to be fully activated.
- No Packet Breaking. The solution is already inside the packaging, meaning the catheter lubrication is already activated. No need to break the packet and wait 30 seconds before the catheter is ready to use.
Examples of no-packet-breaking, ready-to-use catheters are the GentleCath or Cure Twist. They can be covered by your insurance or ordered online with a monthly subscription.
The Most Important Differences
With uncoated catheters, there is no sterile water or saline solbeforeution. The lubricant is purchased individually and is more of a gel, so it won’t drip. Lubrication is key because when a catheter is inserted, it can cause micro-trauma to the urethral tissues if improperly coated. This not only feels uncomfortable, but it also increases the risks of developing a UTI (urinary tract infection).
Pre-lubricated and hydrophilic catheters are both quick to open and easy to insert. The main advantage a pre-lubricated catheter like the Cure Ultra has is the “no-drip and less-mess” experience. Remember: you’re not always going to be self-catheterizing at home, so a self-cathing solution that’s easy to use is an important thing to consider.
If you’re self-cathing more than once a day, we recommend talking to your doctor or one of our Treatment Specialists about switching to a pre-lubricated or hydrophilic catheter.
Sampling Different Types of Catheters
Choosing the right catheter is in the details, some of which are tangible. No roll funnels, easy-hold grippers, no-drip lubricant – experience the differences for yourself by ordering free samples through your personal Treatment Specialist. Together you can make the best decision and establish a delivery schedule, so you never have to worry about your supplies or support ever again!