What is a Pre-Lubricated Catheter?
A pre-lubricated catheter is an intermittent catheter that is ready to use right out of the package. Before inserting a catheter into the urethra of a man or a woman, the catheter needs to be lubricated. There are several ways you can accomplish this, use a separate sterile lubricant like Surgilube, use a pre-lubricated catheter like Cure Ultra, or you can use a hydrophillic catheter like Coloplast SpeediCath. Pre-lubricated catheters are covered in a gel like sterile lubricant that is immediately ready to use once the catheter is opened. The entire catheter is coated in a "no drip" lubricant. This is different from the hydrophilic style of catheter lubricant because there is no sterile water or sterile saline, the lubricant is actually a lube so it is more gel like and it won't drip water from the packaging. The Cure Ultra catheter also offers another design bonus, the funnel is designed so it won't roll. This is important because when you place your catheter down on a sterile surface, like the underpad found in catheter insertion kits, you don't want your sterile catheter to roll off the counter and hit a floor that is decidedly not sterile. The texture of the Cure Ultra funnel as well as the texture of the gripper sleeve work well even if you deal with dexterity issues in your hands. Personally, I think that Cure catheters do a great job paying attention to details. No roll funnels, grippers that are substantial and easy to hold, lube that doesn't drip, catheters that aren't made with DEHP, BPA, or natural rubber latex, all of these details add up to a catheter that is designed to be used by people with spinal injuries and/or limited dexterity as well as people who need to cath for any reason.
What is a Hydrophilic Catheter?
A hydrophilic catheter has a coating that is bound to the catheter surface and when this coating comes into contact with sterile water or saline the lubrication is activated and it is extremely slick. Hydrophilic catheters are designed two ways, they are packaged with an intact packet of sterile solution along with the catheter and when you break the packet the catheter is coated by the solution and the lubrication is activated. The second style is when there is no packet and the solution is already inside the catheter packaging. This means the catheter lubrication is already activated and there is no need to break the packet and wait 30 seconds for the catheter to be fully lubricated and ready for use. An example of the "ready to use, no packet breaking" style is the previously mentioned SpeediCath or the Cure Twist. Hydrophilic catheters are packaged in a solution or the packet is broken by hand in order to release the solution so they are messier than the pre-lubricated style of catheter. However, they may be messy but they are slick and fully lubricated not only during insertion but during the catheter removal as well. Lubrication is important because when a catheter is inserted, it can cause micro-trauma to the urethral tissues which not only feels uncomfortable but can also increase the risks of developing a UTI (urinary tract infection). If you are using catheters even once a day, you should talk to your doctor or your medical care team about switching to either a hydrophilic or a pre-lubricated catheter.
So, Which Should You Use? Pre-lubricated Catheters or Hydrophilic Catheters?
Both are going to offer you a catheter that is ideally lubricated so it is comfortable to insert and remove. Both styles of self-lubricated catheters are available in a variety of french sizes and over-all lengths. I think the main advantage to the pre-lubricated Cure Ultra is the fact that the lubricant on that catheter is not messy and it doesn't drip. You are not always going to be self-catheterizing at home with your ideal set up. Sometimes you will have to self-cath in places that aren't anywhere near ideal. I think those less than ideal locations are the times having a Cure Ultra catheter is going to be helpful. Even if you don't want to fully switch to the Cure Ultra full time, I think it is a catheter that would be great to have on hand because when you need it, you will be glad you have it with you.
As always, before you change your medical care routine, talk to your healthcare provider and get their input, they know your individual health record so they are in the best position to help you.