United States Patent 3726280

This invention relates to a catheter support comprising an elongate elastic band carrying a pair of two-part fastener sets adapted when fastened to define a small tube-receiving loop and a larger limb-receiving loop arranged in figure "8" relation to one another.

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International Classes:
A61M25/02; (IPC1-7): A61M25/02
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US Patent References:
3297026Restraining device1967-01-10Van Pelt
3288136Tube lock1966-11-29Lund
3161199Stomach tube holder1964-12-15Shaw
3160158Support for catheter and the like1964-12-08Rayhart
2669231Retaining means for flexible tubes1954-02-16Fisher

Primary Examiner:
Truluck, Dalton L.
What is claimed is

1. The catheter support which comprises: an elongate elastic band; first fastener means carried by one face of said band having a first element adjacent an end thereof and a second element spaced longitudinally of said first element, said first and second elements cooperating when fastened together to define a minor loop sized to releasably retain a catheter tube; second fastener means carried by the other face of said band with one element in back-to-back relation to the second element of the first fastener means and another of its elements on he opposite end from said first element of said first fastener means, the elements of said second fastener means cooperating when fastened together to define a major loop sized to releasably receive a human limb, and said first and second fastener means cooperating with one another to locate the major and minor loops in figure-8 relation to one another.

2. The catheter support as set forth in claim 1 in which: the second fastener means includes at least one element like the element thereof on the end of the band spaced inward longitudinally of the latter.

3. The catheter support as set forth in claim 1 in which: the parts of the first fastener means are longitudinally adjustable relative to one another so as to vary the size of the minor loop defined thereby.

The use of catheters in the medical sciences for the purpose of draining body cavities is quite common. One such catheter is a so-called "indwelling" or "Foley" catheter which is inserted into the bladder and inflated to form a small balloon inside the body which holds it in place. Such catheters can become most uncomfortable for the patient, especially the ambulatory ones, due to the constant irritation of the urethra and bladder caused by its pulling and shifting upon movement of the body. Since it is sometimes necessary to wear catheters of this type for extended periods of time, it becomes quite important to stabilize them against the type of movement responsible for much of the irritation.

Catheter supports of various types and styles are well known in the prior art but few, if any, are suitable for use in holding an "indewelling" catheter in place. Some catheter supports are quite difficult to use, especially by the patient or other untrained personnel, due to a complicated harness arrangement. Others make no pretense of preventing the type of catheter movement which is so irritating and painful to a patient that must wear an "indwelling" catheter. All too often, a band of ordinary adhesive tape does about as well as anything else that is available in the way of a specially designed catheter support and this probably explains why so few of the latter are used.

Another problem associated with the prior art catheter supports is one of varying the size thereof to accommodate different patients. Straps and buckles, knotted ties and adhesive bands are more widely used than anything else, yet, they have their limitations and shortcomings. Any type of strap closure tends to be so tight as to be uncomfortable or else too loose to do the job for which it is intended.

The remaining problem is one of cost. The prior art catheter supports are, for the most part, sufficiently complicated to require expert manufacturing techniques and possibly expensive dies and molds that run the cost up significantly. Since catheter supports are frequently disposed of along with the catheter after use by only one patient rather than being sterilized and reused, it is well to keep the cost as low as practicable consistent with good workmanship.

It has now been found in accordance with the teaching of the instant invention that a novel and improved catheter support can be made from a short length of elastic material to which are sewn or otherwise fastened two sets of two-part fasteners so located that they cooperate in fastened position to define two closed loops occupying a figure "8" relationship to one another. The unit is so simple and the materials so available that it is ideally suited to manufacture by non-professionals such as, for example, hospital auxiliaries and volunteer groups.

The elastic band cooperates with two or more longitudinally spaced elements to one of the two-part fastener pairs that produces the larger of the loops to provide adjustability all the way from about a two inch diameter circle up to ten inches or more. Such a range of sizes is, of course, adequate to cover the limb circumferences of nearly any patient. Once fastened around the limb, the unit stays securely in place without slipping or cutting off the blood circulation.

Most important of all, however, is the unit's ability to hold an "indwelling" catheter to the patient's leg so securely that even the ambulatory patient experiences little, if any, of the pull thereon associated with the use of the prior art catheter supports when used to hold a similar type of catheter. The discomfort associated with having a wear a "Foley" catheter, while never eliminated, is at least not enhanced by the failure of the support therefor to function as intended.

It is, therefore, the principal object of the present invention to provide a novel and improved catheter support.

A second objective is the provision of a device of the type aforementioned that is ideally suited for use with the so-called "Foley" catheter which is one of the "indwelling" types.

Another object of the invention disclosed and claimed herein is to provide a catheter support that may be fabricated from materials readily available commercially with unskilled labor.

Still another object of the within-described invention is to provide a catheter support that can be washed, sterilized and reused over and over again.

An additional object is to provide a catheter supporting unit that is easily fitted, attached and removed by unskilled personnel.

Further objects are to provide a catheter supporting apparatus that is inexpensive, lightweight, secure, safe, reliable, compact, versatile and even somewhat decorative.

Other objects will be in part apparent and in part pointed out specifically hereinafter in connection with the description of the drawings that follows, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary elevational view showing the catheter support of the present invention in place encircling the leg of a patient and supporting a "Foley" catheter;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view to an enlarged scale showing both the limb-encircling loop of the support and the tube-encircling loop, the tubes of the catheter having been shown in section within and alongside the latter loop;

FIG. 3 is a still further enlarged fragmentary view similar to FIG. 2 but concentrating on the area of the tube-encircling loop;

FIG. 4 is an edge view of the support showing it laid out flat;

FIG. 5 is an outside plan view thereof; and,

FIG. 6 is an outside plan view.

Referring next to the drawings for a detailed description of the present invention and, initially, to FIG. 1 for this purpose, reference numeral 10 has been employed to broadly designate the catheter support of the present invention which will be seen in use encircling the leg 12 of a patient in supporting relation to the indwelling "Foley" catheter that has been similarly designated by numeral 14. The catheter is of conventional design having a main outside tube 16, the interior of which is divided into three separate passages, one of which connects into an inflatable bulb 18 that balloons out of the main tube when inflated through tube 20. The bulb is usually inflated with water introduced into branch 20 by means of a syringe or similar pump prior to its being plugged. This bulb in actual use is located inside the bladder and its purpose is to hold the main tube securely in place therein. The second of the three passages is the drain passage by means of which the body fluids from the bladder are evacuated through a drain tube into a bag or other receptacle (not shown) attached to the patient's leg. The intake opening 24 into this drain passage opens above the bulb 18 inside the bladder. The third of the three passages opens into the bladder at 26 above intake opening 24. Branch tube 28 connects into this third passage and provides means for introducing fluids into the bladder rather than withdrawing them therefrom. In this way, medicaments, x-ray contrast media and the like can be introduced into the bladder and urinary tract.

As revealed most clearly in FIGS. 2 and 3, and to a lesser extent in FIG. 1, branch tubes 20 and 28 are held within the minor loop 30 of the catheter support 10 while the outlet 22 of the drain passage remains on the outside thereof. This minor loop is defined by taking one end 32 of the elongate elastic band 34 and folding it back upon itself whereupon the juxtaposed faces 36 are releasably fastened together at a point spaced from the reverse bend 38 separating same by the first of two two-part fasteners that have been broadly inferred to by reference numeral 40. This fastener 40, in the preferred form illustrated, comprises a fabric fastener having no metal parts with one element 42 carrying the fibrous knap or pile surface while the other element 44 has the loops, such a fastener being marketed currently under the registered trademark "VELCRO."

Another advantage of the "VELCRO" fastener in the instant application is that the size of minor loop 30 can be adjusted slightly to accommodate single catheter tubes of various diameters by shifting the two parts 42 and 44 of the fastener laterally relative to one another so that they just partially overlap and do not register all the way around but only at the ends. In so doing, the closure, while less secure, is still adequate for this purpose. While most other two-part closures require precise alignment of the parts to achieve the interlock, this is not true of the "VELCRO" closure. Of course, the elements 42 and 44 of fastener 40 can be interchanged one for the other without adversely affecting the operation of the catheter support.

Other types of fasteners can be substituted for the "VELCRO" type; however, few, if any, are as ideally suited for this purpose. Ones having metal parts may rust, especially when being autoclaved. Many two-part fasteners require special tools and equipment for installing them which takes the manufacture of the support out of the realm of the volunteer worker in most instances. Other types are complicated, expensive and difficult to sterilize. On the other hand, the "VELCRO" fastener is simply sewed to the elastic band and the entire unit is completely washable.

The minor loop 30 formed by closing fastener 40 around tubular branches 20 and 28 while leaving drain tube 22 outside thereof provides a secure support for all three. There is, of course, no reason that the catheter support of the present invention cannot be used with other than "indwelling" catheters with equally good results; it is just that the unit finds its maximum utility and benefit in such an application.

The major loop 46 is intended to encircle a limb of the patient, usually a leg as shown in FIG. 1. Even so, the circumference of various patients' legs varies from a minimum of somewhere around 6 inches on up to close to 3 feet with the average probably lying between approximately 12 and 24 inches. Since band 34 is elastic and must grip the leg tightly to keep it from slipping, the aforementioned requirements are satisfied by a band having about 16 inches available from which to form the major loop 46. A band two inches wide spreads the pressure enough so as to not cut into the flesh although a wider one can be used. A narrower band, on the other hand, is uncomfortable to the patient and provides a less secure grip upon the catheter.

Now, in the preferred embodiment of the invention, one element 42 of the second two-part fastener 40A is located in back-to-back relation to the part 42 of the first set that is spaced the farthest inwardly from the end so that all four elements to the two fastener sets will end up in essentially stacked relation as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 in the fastened position thereof. In so doing, the minor and major loops cooperate with one another to define an essentially "Figure 8" configuration revealed most clearly in FIG. 2.

Next, it will be noted that while adjustments in the size of minor loop 30 are accomplished by a lateral shift between the elements 42 and 44 of the fastener set defining same, the adjustments in size of the major loop 46 are accomplished in a different fashion, namely, by providing the second fastener set 40A with more than one mating part 44 for element 42 thereof. These several mating parts 44, three having been shown, are spaced apart longitudinally of the band 34 in parallel relation to one another and on the same face or side of the latter as element 42 of their fastener set 40A. On the other hand, parts or elements 44 of the two fastener sets 40 and 40A are located at opposite extremities of the band and, therefore, on opposite sides of the back-to-back elements 42. For all practical purposes, the elements 44 of fastener set 40A are spaced out along the half of band 34 that defines the major loop that lies remote from element 42 thereof. In so doing, the adjacent element 44 of set 40A will cooperate when selectively attached to element 42 to define a major loop having a diameter of about 4 inches in extended position giving it an overall circumference of somewhere around 12 inches. Conversely, interconnecting the most remote of the elements 44 with element 42 of set 40A produces a major loop having a circumference when stretched of a little over 2 feet.

It should be noted that only the band touches the leg and that all of the fastener elements as well as the catheter components held thereby have at least one layer of the elastic band interposed between it and the skin. A mere pull or tug on the exterior flap 48 of the minor loop will open the outside fastener 40 and a continued pull will open the inside one 40A. No buckles or snaps are used that require both good eyesight and manual dexterity; therefore, the ill, the infirm and the elderly can operate the support without outside assistance.