Adaptive Product Reviews – catheter edition (leg bag, night bag, and hanger)

……….I’m about to get a supra-publc catheter. Which leg bags and night bags have people found most useful?

A friend

Having done a set of reviews of products that are of quite general appeal – wheelchair-related ones – this is a little more niche.

When I first got a catheter I had no idea what products would work for me. There were so many out there, and I couldn’t figure out what I needed. Leg bags and night bags seemed central to catheter management, but there were so many brands that I got really stuck working out what to use. I couldn’t find reviews, and it took me years to settle on some products that I liked. Having done so, I thought I’d better review them! These products have changed my life, and they are the Bendi Bag, the FlexiHang, and my beloved 3 litre night bags.

Bendi bag by Manfred Sauer

The bendi-bag by Manfred Sauer

I used the bendi bag leg bag when I was more active as a wheelchair user, and stopped using it when I was functionally unable to use my chair. I recently restarted, and am reminded again how great it is.

Most catheter bags are designed and shaped for people walking. They fit tightly around the calf or thigh, and the goal is to prevent them falling down. They assume that the wearer will have no trouble finding somewhere to empty it, and generally don’t meet the needs of wheelchair users. When I found the bendi-bag for the first time, I was thrilled, because it ticked all my boxes.

It’s designed to be worn on a bent leg by someone sat down. This means that the weight of the bag hangs from a strap that goes above the knee, and the strap at the bottom of the calf simply holds it in place and against the body. This does mean more weight going through your leg to the chair cushion, and to the footrest, but this has never caused problems for me. The back of the bag is made with a flocking material to be soft against the leg, and the straps can be cut to length, to some extent. The bag is very long, stretching from above my knee right down to my ankle-bone, meaning a PA or carer can easily get the valve out from the bottom of my jeans in order to empty the bag.

While I often have problems with skinny jeans compressing catheter bags and limiting their size, I don’t struggle with that here. Instead, the bag is able to fill to about 80% of its full capacity, even in very skinny jeans (though this can make my two legs look very unevenly shaped.

The best thing about this bag is the capacity: 1,300 ml, or well over a litre. This is incredible, because it allows me to last a lot longer between bag emptying – and I don’t have to limit my fluid intake. Because the bag is so long, it doesn’t stick out nearly as much as you’d think for the capacity, and it just takes away the anxiety of when I’d next find an appropriate accessible toilet.

There are two capacities available, 700ml and 1300ml, and a variety of types of tap, tube length, and sterility. I choose the 1300ml capacity obviously, with the 35cm adjustable inlet tube (which can be cut to your desired length, then a connector fits into the tube to link it to your catheter), and sterile. If you’re prone to infections I definitely recommend sterility.

You can request a free sample. Try it and let me know what you think!

Flexihang by Flexicare

The Flexihang catheter bag hanger by Flexicare

Until I used the flexihang, I thought all night-bag hangers were about the same: lasted a couple of weeks, tore through the top corners / holes in the night bag, fell off the bed all the time, and eventually snapped. Then I was discharged from hospital with my supplies, and this miraculous object appeared before me. Since then, I refuse to be separated from this – all my feelings about my catheter are projected into my need to have a flexihang spare. I’m not joking.

It’s just a catheter bag hanger, but it’s the perfect catheter bag hanger. Most catheter bags have at least 4 push-out holes at the top, but many hangers only have two points at which a bag can be attached. This hanger has four points, and the ones at each end have a clip that goes over the plastic of the bag, securing it in place. This means that the bags stay securely attached. The hanger is also strong enough to hold a full 3 litre catheter bag – more than can be said for most. It has a handle for carrying the catheter bag, and on top of the handle is a clip to keep the tubing running down into the bag straight.

There are a multitude of ways of attaching the bag to your bed – the handles bend to hook over rails on a bed, or onto rope grips either side of your mattress, but also fold flat between a mattress and bed, to leave the bag hanging that way instead – not needing a rail. I’ve used both methods, depending on the bed I’ve been sleeping in.

The bad news is I have no idea how to get you one of these hangers. If I had enough people who were interested, I’d potentially buy them in bulk and sell on to other people. Otherwise, you can try approaching Flexicare directly, or contact your medical supplies company. Flexicare do their own medical supplies delivery, so if your GP will let you order your catheter supplies through them, that might be another way of getting your hands on their hanger – that worked for me in the past.

Linc 3 litre sterile single use night bag

The single use night drainage bag by Linc. This is the two litre one (I think) but the three litre one looks the same.

The 3 litre sterile single use catheter bag solved one of the problems with care, catheters and drinking for me. I was always limited in how much I can drink by the size of my catheter bag. This is something I find particularly difficult when I’m relying on a PA to come in and empty my catheter bag in the morning, and when I get a very dry mouth from my medication.

The solution for me has been this 3 litre night bag. A bag of that capacity is hard to fill overnight, and it makes me a lot less anxious about being left an indeterminable amount of time if a PA is late.

If you get a lot of infections, using the same night bag (as often recommended) for 5-7 days can be a major cause of infection. For me, swapping from that to sterile single use bags really helped. If you’re leaving a night bag alone all day, then reconnecting to it every night, the bacteria left in the bag breed and colonise it, massively increasing your infection risk. I now only use these 3 litre single use night bags, which work far better for me.

The downside is the tap. They’re designed such that once the bag has been opened to be drained, it cannot be closed again. This means that they can’t accidentally be used, put aside, then reused, but the tap itself is very poorly designed. In theory, the bottom of the tap can be twisted off, allowing it to drain, but in practice that is very difficult for PAs to do – and impossible to do without getting covered in urine. Some cut it off, while others simply cut a slit in the bag in order to drain it – but regardless of method, it can be a messy procedure.

These three products have been integral to my catheter management, and I highly recommend them.

If you have any questions about these, or any other product, (or have recommendations of your own) just comment, email me at hale.jamie.r@gmail.com, or tweet @jamierhale

To see the other reviews in this series, go to Adaptive Product Reviews

If you make or sell a product you want me to review, drop me an email on hale.jamie.r@gmail.com

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