Catheter: FSA Eligibility
What is a catheter?
Catheters hold innumerable uses in modern medicine as a means of delivering medications, fluids or gases to patients, but they are most commonly used to extract fluids from the body. While catheters have myriad uses in a contemporary medical setting, they are most familiar to patients as tools that are used post-surgery or to treat incontinence to extract urine from the body in the form of a urinary catheter. However, these items can be adapted for a broad range of functions and surgical procedures. Because catheters are constructed with resilient materials and can be inserted into body cavities, ducts and vessels, they can be tailored for use in gastrointestinal, neurovascular, cardiovascular, urological and ophthalmic applications (National Center for Biotechnology Information).
What are the primary types of catheters?
While catheters can be adapted for a variety of uses in a medical setting, patients who wish to purchase them with a consumer-directed healthcare account will most likely use them for urinary extraction, and therefore will opt for urinary catheters. These products are available in a variety of designs, including via WebMD:
- Indwelling Catheter: This type of catheter is one that is left inside the bladder for short or extended periods of time. These products use a drainage bag to collect the urine, while other modern variants now have valves in place that can be opened to drain the urine from the collection area. These devices are inserted through the urethra and into the bladder, or through a small hole in the belly and into the bladder done at a doctor's office. Indwelling bladders are unique for the small inflated balloon on the end to prevent it from sliding out of the body.
- Condom Catheter: This product is typically used by men who experience incontinence, and rather than a tube that is placed into the penis and extended all the way up into the bladder, condom catheters feature a latex cover that goes over the penis and drains into a bag. These products must be changed every day for sanitary purposes.
- Intermittent Self-Catheter: In some cases, continuous catheter use is not necessary, so some patients will require an intermittent self-catheter. This process can be conducted by the patient or a caregiver and the catheter is inserted once or several times each day to drain the bladder and then it is removed. This catheter is designed for ease of use and can help patients enjoy a more active lifestyle without having to wear a consistently draining catheter and bag.