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By Charles P. Buscemi, PhD, APRN, CWCN and Arturo Gonzalez, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, CWCN-AP

Urinary catheters serve several purposes, including monitoring urine output, relieving urinary retention, and facilitating diagnosis of disease in the lower urinary tract. These catheters can be inserted easily and are universally available, which usually results in their continued and indiscriminate usage. Urinary catheters can be indwelling or external-condom types. The indwelling catheter can be either a suprapubic or a urethral catheter. The external catheter provides a safe alternative to an indwelling catheter for patients having urinary incontinence (UI). It comprises a sheath surrounding the penis with a tube situated at the tip linked to a collection bag. Conversely, the condom catheter seems an attractive option for patients with UI. About 40% of condom catheter users have urinary tract infections. Moreover, 15% of condom catheter users have necrosis, ulceration, inflammation, and constriction of the penile skin. There is also an additional risk of urine leakage and condom detachment. Furthermore, the use of the external catheter requires significant nursing time. Overall, the condom catheter cannot be satisfactorily used for managing UI; nevertheless, it is useful for the non-invasive measurement of bladder pressure.

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