Placement of a catheter into a particular part of the body may allow:
- draining urine from the urinary bladder as in urinary catheterization, e.g., the Foley catheter or even when the urethra is damaged as in suprapubic catheterisation.
- drainage of urine from the kidney by percutaneous nephrostomy
- drainage of fluid collections, e.g. an abdominal abscess
- administration of intravenous fluids, medication or parenteral nutrition with a peripheral venous catheter
- angioplasty, angiography, balloon septostomy, balloon sinuplasty, catheter ablation. Often the Seldinger technique is used.
- direct measurement of blood pressure in an artery or vein
- direct measurement of intracranial pressure
- administration of anaesthetic medication into the epidural space, the subarachnoid space, or around a major nerve bundle such as the brachial plexus
- subcutaneous administration of insulin or other medications, with the use of an infusion set and insulin pump
- A central venous catheter is a conduit for giving drugs or fluids into a large-bore catheter positioned either in a vein near the heart or just inside the atrium.
- A Swan-Ganz catheter is a special type of catheter placed into the pulmonary artery for measuring pressures in the heart.
- An umbilical line is a catheter used in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) providing quick access to the central circulation of premature infants.
- A ''Touhy borst adapter'' is a medical device used for attaching catheters to various other devices.
- A ''Quinton catheter'' is a double or triple lumen, external catheter used for hemodialysis.
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