A Malecot catheter is a tube which is designed to be used for temporary drainage in the wake of a medical procedure or medical issue such as incontinence or kidney stones. These catheters are distinguished by a winged design, with small wings on the end of the catheter which is inserted into the body. The wings stabilize the catheter and hold it in place, reducing the risk that it will slip or become dislodged. There are a number of settings in which a Malecot catheter might be used, and many hospitals keep a stock in various sizes available. Manufacturers of medical equipment usually offer a range of sizes and styles, made from various materials.
One common reason to insert a Malecot catheter is to provide drainage to the bladder or kidneys. In the case of a nephrostomy, an opening is created which allows urine to drain from the kidneys to the skin, via the Malecot catheter, with the end of the catheter commonly being attached to a bag to catch the urine. The catheter can also be inserted into the urethra to drain the bladder, with the wings holding in place and the tube acting as a stent to keep the urethra open. This can help a patient pass a stone.
Another option is in use as a feeding tube. Gastrostomy tubes, as they are known, are inserted into the stomach, allowing people to directly provide nutrition to a patient. This type of catheter may be used as a temporary feeding tube before a different type is installed. The array of sizes allows a surgeon to select the most appropriate length for a given patient.
Many Malecot catheters are designed to be left in place for up to a month, acting as a long term catheter. However, it is important to confirm that the catheter is being cared for. The area around the catheter needs to be kept clean, and a doctor needs to periodically check for signs that the catheter has shifted or that an infection is present. Failure to exercise proper care can result in a complication.
When it is time to remove the catheter, the removal technique varies, depending on the placement was performed. During removal, the area will be assessed to confirm that it is in good condition and is healing well. The patient will also need to follow some simple aftercare directions to take care of the site while it fully heals.