A Description and the Characteristics of a Catheterization - Step To Health

A Description and the Characteristics of a Catheterization

Catheterization is a useful technique for introducing fluids or draining them, but it isn't risk-free. Learn more in this article.
A Description and the Characteristics of a Catheterization

Last update: 26 October, 2021

Catheterization is a technique widely used in medicine. It has multiple applications. A catheter is a device in the form of a tube that’s long and narrow and comes in different sizes depending on what it’s going to be used for.

This technique was invented in the U.S.A. in the 18th century. One of its most frequent uses is to empty the bladder of patients who can’t do it normally. However, healthcare professionals also use it to administer drugs, drain other liquids, or as a guide to introduce other instruments.

Thanks to advances in medicine, we can use catheterization in the treatment of more health conditions. For example, cardiac catheterization became popular in recent years. Today’s article will describe this technique in detail.

What does a catheterization consist of?

As mentioned above, this procedure consists of inserting a catheter — a thin, soft, flexible plastic tube. One can insert it through the body tissues or pathways, such as the arteries or urinary tract.

There are many types of catheters and they’re all for different purposes. For instance, there’s intravenous catheterization. This type is mainly used to administer drugs, such as anesthesia.

Healthcare professionals also use it to perform dialysis, measure blood pressure and introduce other fluids. Another type of catheterization, used frequently, is the urinary type. It helps evacuate urine from people who cannot urinate properly.

A doctor in an operating room

Types of catheterization

There are different types of catheters for pretty much every use. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used, such as cardiac, urinary, and intravenous.

Cardiac catheterization

As we mentioned above, cardiac catheterization is an intervention with a lot of weight in medicine nowadays. Furthermore, it consists of introducing a catheter through a vein or artery, usually in the leg or arm.

The technician guides the catheter to the heart and doing so makes it possible to diagnose numerous health conditions. For example, they can use it to find obstructions in a blood vessel. They can also use it to see if there’s a structural problem in the heart or even to do a tissue biopsy.

Urinary catheterization

In this case, there are three types:

  • Firstly, intermittent catheterization is for draining the bladder through the urethra, it’s temporary
  • Indwelling catheters are for cases of long-term drainage and avoid having to insert them several times, it has an increased risk of infection though
  • Thirdly, suprapubic catheterization is for cases where there’s damage in the urethra so technicians insert it below the belly button and directly into the bladder

Intravenous catheterization

This can be peripheral or central:

  • Peripheral is the one inserted in the arms or feet
  • Central catheterization goes into the neck or chest and it’s more complex and reserved for people who need to use it for a longer period of time
A hand with a catheter.

Possible risks

Like any other invasive technique, inserting a catheter into the body has risks. However, the benefits outweigh the risks in most circumstances. Overall, some of the complications that can occur are:

  • An allergic reaction to the catheter material
  • An infection at the site of insertion or pain
  • Injury to the blood vessels
  • Formation of blood clots or bleeding

Finally, a physician must be in charge of any such treatment. In addition, anyone with a catheter should follow the proper maintenance instructions.

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