A Comparison of Intermittent Urinary Catheter Flow Rates

Monday, 12 July 2010: 3:25 PM

Deborah R. McWilliams, MSN, RN, CPNP1
Kerrie A. Quenneville, MSN, RN, BS, FNP-BC2
Kathleen A. Carroll, BSN, RN1
1Department of Urology, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, MI
2Vattikuti Urology Institute, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to educate patients and caregivers regarding appropriate expectations of catheter flow rate.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to discuss factors that impact catheter flow rates.

Purpose: A common belief among clinicians is that urinary catheter flow rates increase as the Fr size increases.  This study was to determine if there is a relationship between urinary catheter intraluminal diameter (Fr size) and flow rate of catheterized urine. 

Background: For patients who require clean intermittent catheterization (CIC) for bladder management, faster flow rates may translate to improved quality of life (QOL) as a result of expedited toileting, more efficient bladder emptying and increased satisfaction. However, there is limited research to support a direct correlation between urinary catheter Fr size and flow rate. Flow rate information was not available from Coloplast (Mentor® catheters) and Astra Tech (Lofric® catheters).

Methods: A quasi-experimental design was utilized. Using an artificial bladder, flow rates were measured with 30 Mentor® and 8 Lofric® catheters. Coude and straight tip catheters were tested. Flow rates were measured with a stopwatch and the mean was calculated for each catheter size and style. Lofric® catheter flow rates were compared with the mean of Mentor® counterparts. Mean flow rates between catheter Fr sizes were evaluated using a One – Way ANOVA and post hoc tests (p < 0.02).

Results: Faster flow rates were associated with larger intraluminal diameter and catheter length.

Discussion: In this setting, catheter flow rates increased with catheter length and intraluminal diameter. Faster
catheter flow rate may increase patient adherence to a CIC regimen and maximize bladder health and quality of

Implications: Clinicians’ awareness of catheter properties that may enhance urinary drainage can be used to
individualize catheter prescriptions for patients who perform CIC. Future research is needed to evaluate flow
rates of catheters of multiple manufacturers and the impact of catheter flow rate on patient adherence with CIC and perceived QOL.