Why Would You Use a Coudé Catheter?

July 23,2020 |
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Urinary catheters are widely used by a variety of people. If you’re recovering from surgery, treating an underlying problem, or can’t empty your bladder on your own, your doctor will recommend the use of a catheter. Catheters help you urinate without putting excess strain on your body. They’re an important medical device that allows you to avoid putting unnecessary stress and pressure on your kidneys, bladder, and the rest of your urinary tract system.

Sometimes, catheters are used for brief periods of time and other times they’re required on a more long-term basis. Catheters come in a variety of different types and range in sizes based on patient need. Once you regain control of your bladder, most catheters are taken out and you can continue living a normal life. To help you get a better understanding, in this article we’ll discuss coudé catheters and why you would use a coudé catheter.

What is a Coudé Catheter?

While there are a wide variety of catheters available for use, the two main types are straight tip and coudé tip. Coudé is French for “bend” therefore a coudé catheter is a type of catheter that is mostly straight but has a tip that curves/bends slightly. Some people refer to these types of catheters as a bent tip catheter—they are the same thing and used interchangeably.

Within the general coudé catheter genre, there are three main coudé catheter tip styles: tapered tip, olive tip, and a tiemann tip.

  • Tapered Tip – a tapered tip is the most commonly used type of coudé catheter. They’re the standard type of coudé tip that’s used and are good for dealing with most of the common obstruction or blockage needs.
  • Olive Tip – an olive tip is a type of coudé catheter that has a more rounded end that extends out to look like a small circular tip. They’re a little larger than a standard tip, but the circular shape helps to widen narrow urethras so that insertion is more comfortable. The shape and size of an olive tip’s end is also helpful in avoiding getting stuck on any obstructions.
  • Tiemann Tip – a tiemann tip is the longest, most narrow type of coudé catheter tip. It is most commonly used by those who have a very narrow urethra and cannot fit a tapered or olive tip in without discomfort. If you’re feeling any discomfort with a tapered or olive coudé catheter tip, talk to your urologist about trying a tiemann tip.

Different Types of Coudé Catheters

In addition to the three types of coudé catheter tips, there are also a variety of styles and designs of coudé catheters. The most common ones include a foley catheter, intermittent catheters, red rubber catheters, silicone catheters, coated catheters, and closed system coudé catheters.

  • Foley Catheters – a foley coudé catheter is one of the best designs for when you need to use a catheter for a long period of time. They’re designed to stay in place and therefore can be used for about a month at a time. If you need to use a foley coudé catheter, your doctor will walk you through instructions and specifications.
  • Intermittent Catheters – intermittent coudé catheters are disposable and meant for use only once. When you take out the intermittent catheter, regardless of if you need to replace it, you need to throw it away and use a new one. Your doctor will walk you through steps on clean intermittent catheterization so that you can do this in the comfort of your own home.
  • Red Rubber Catheters – red rubber coudé catheters are made using a specific type of red rubber latex. This is in place of the plastic used on other types in case you have a sensitivity or allergy. Red rubber coudé catheters are a subtype of intermittent catheters, so they need to be thrown out after one use.
  • Silicone Catheters – silicone coudé catheters are made using 100% silicone for those that are allergic to latex or other plastics. These are a subtype of foley catheters, so can be used for long periods of time. There are different styles of silicone catheters, which your doctor will discuss with you based on your needs.
  • Coated Catheters – coated coudé catheters can be any of the types of catheters discussed above. The main difference is that they’re coated with a substance for a specific purpose based on your needs. Some coated catheters help prevent urinary tract infections while others fight active infections. Your doctor will recommend the best type of coated catheter based on your needs.

Reasons to Use a Coudé Catheter

The main reason that people use a coudé catheter is if they have difficulty inserting a straight catheter in the urethra and through to the bladder. The curved tip makes insertion easier and allows for better access for people who suffer from urethral blockages or cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Other reasons to use a coudé catheter are if you feel any pain or discomfort when using a straight tip catheter. Regardless of the reason for this pain or discomfort, a coudé catheter usually makes the process of self-catheterization more comfortable and achieves the same benefit. The curvature of coudé catheters reduces the friction that occurs between the patient’s urinary tract and the catheter itself, especially when passing over the prostate. Because of this, coudé catheters are more often used by men, but women can still benefit if they have an obstruction that makes self-catherization difficult.

If you’ve just undergone surgery or have a narrow urethra, your doctor may suggest using a coudé catheter to avoid complications and increase your comfort levels. Other reasons you might need a coudé catheter are if you have urethra strictures, are receiving radiation in the pelvic region, if you’re about to undergo prostate surgery or if you have previous scars from prostate surgery, if you have an atrophic vagina, if you have a stoma, if you’re suffering from urethral trauma, or if you have one or more false passages in your urethra. If you have any questions about whether or not you should use a coudé catheter, don’t hesitate to talk to your urologist.

How to Use a Coudé Catheter

If you need to use a coudé catheter, don’t worry. While it seems intimidating at first, your doctor will walk you through the process and pretty soon it’ll become second nature. The primary steps to using an intermittent coudé catheter include:

  1. Getting all of your supplies ready
  2. Washing your hands adequately along with the insertion site. Make sure that you use warm soapy water and wash thoroughly to minimize the risk of infection.
  3. If possible, use gloves for insertion to completely eradicate the risk of infection.
  4. Lubricate your coudé catheter to increase comfort during insertion.
  5. Hold your penis (or spread your vulva) so that your urethra is accessible in one hand and have the catheter in the other.
  6. Slowly insert the coudé catheter into your urethra. Your doctor will show you how far it needs to be or there will be markings on the catheter itself. A little resistance is natural, but never force the catheter in.
  7. When urine flows, insert the catheter a little further to make sure it’s secure.
  8. After urine flow has stopped completely, slowly remove the catheter.
  9. Throw away your used catheter and wash your hands.

Complications of Coudé Catheter Use

With any catheter use, there are complications and risks that you need to be aware of. The primary risk of using a coudé catheter (or a straight tip) is the risk of infection. To minimize your risk of infection, it’s important to make sure that you wash your hands and practice clean intermittent self-catheterization. Catheterization can also cause allergic reactions so you need to make sure and discuss your allergies with your doctor so they can recommend the best type of coudé catheter. When using a catheter, you’re at a higher risk of bladder stones, bloody urine, urethra injury, kidney damage, or septicemia, so always make sure that you contact your doctor if you see or feel anything that’s not normal. To learn more about your risks and the possible complications of coudé catheter use, talk to your urologist today. 


Using a catheter doesn’t have to be intimidating. With instruction from your doctor and a little practice, pretty soon you’ll be able to do it without even thinking about it. If you have any symptoms of urologic problems, don’t hesitate to contact your urologist today. If you need any urological supplies or additional educational resources, visit our educational support page or our product selection guide. Byram Healthcare is proud to offer full-service urological care urological supplies. All your orders can be discreetly delivered to your home, at any time of the day. If you’re looking for personalized, confidential services, our teams of knowledgeable urological customer service specialists are here to help.