Suction and female external catheters

Suction and female external catheters - Blog

UPDATE August 11, 2022: Boehringer Laboratories now offers our own solution for external urinary management for women, CareDry®.  Learn More Here

Systematic suction limits the capabilities of female external catheters like PureWick® and PrimaFit®. The suction regulator capabilities largely determine the quality of that suction. There are two variables involved in regulating suction: Pressure & Flow. Let’s dig into each of these and how they affect the performance of your external female catheters.


The flow your suction regulator produces determines how well your external female catheters work for liquids like urine. The greater the flow rate, the faster the urine is transported. However, there is no way to set the flow on the suction regulator, and instead, the user must set the suction regulator’s pressure.

Flow can be measured in many ways but typically is measured in liters per minute “LPM.” When dealing with EFCs, if the patient is urinating faster than the suction can transport it, this will produce leakage issues. Therefore, unless you want to clean up urine, you want high flow from your suction setup. Additionally, this increased flow also helps to dry out the catheter material after it has saturated.

Higher Flow = Better Performance.


By design, suction regulators regulate pressure. When you turn a regulator up, the pressure increases. In most cases, pressure is a necessary evil. It’s not ideal for applying to patients, but without pressure, there is no flow. Too much pressure applied to a patient in the wrong area for a long enough time, you can end up with pressure-induced injuries. On the other hand, too little pressure may not produce enough flow, thus not quickly removing urine. Unfortunately, to increase flow, you need to increase the pressure.

Low pressure = Safer.

How Suction Regulators Affect PureWick® Performance

What gets interesting is that two different brands of regulators, set to the same 55mmHg pressure, will have completely different flows. For example, low-end plastic regulators with tiny internal passages have flow rates typically around 15LPM. High-end metal regulators run closer to 25LPM. So effectively, you have two regulators set to the same “safety” level, with entirely different levels of “performance” from a clinical perspective.

Suction is one of the determining factors in the successful use of any external catheter. To utilize your external female catheters like the PureWick® and PrimaFit® external female catheters to their fullest potential, you want a combination of low pressure – high flow suction.

Looking for more information on solutions for clinical suction? Be sure to check out Boehringer Suction Regulators.

PureWick® is a registered trademark of C.R. Bard, Inc.

PrimaFit® is a registered trademark of Sage Products, LLC.

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Kevin Klocek
Kevin Klocek
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