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New method relieves patients of urinary catheters

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Patients will undoubtedly be grateful that the problem of a non-deflating suprapubic urinary catheter can be overcome simply and safely with a newly described method. Two doctors in an accident and emergency department hit on the solution while trying to remove such a catheter from a bedbound woman after all other attempts at deflating the catheter had failed.

The method entailed gently pulling the catheter to bring the balloon close to the internal opening of the fistula tract. Next, an intravenous cannula (18 gauge) was taken, its cap and hub removed, and a 20 ml syringe attached to the needle. The sheath was adjusted to cover the point of the needle, and this end was introduced down the fistula, close by the catheter wall until it met with a slight resistance. Then the tip of the needle was pushed through the end of the sheath, allowing the syringe to fill automatically with balloon fluid and the catheter to be removed easily. The method also worked when tested experimentally with catheters of 12–16 gauge.

Replacing this type of catheter is common practice in accident and emergency departments, but quite often the balloon does not deflate. Some other methods resort to tearing the balloon, but these may leave debris behind, whereas this method is safe and—best of all—quick.

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