Difference Between Tunneled and Non-Tunneled Catheter (With Table)

Catheters are long flexible tube-like medical instruments used to administer medicine to a patient directly into the bloodstream for faster and effective treatment. All catheters are essentially made to communicate with the veins. They are also called venous catheters. They are very important in the medical world and can be of various types. The most popular types are tunneled and Non-Tunneled catheters.

Tunneled vs Non-Tunneled Catheter

The difference between tunneled and Non-Tunneled catheters is that while one is superficial, the other is placed quite deep inside the body. The location and function of these catheters vary. Tunneled catheters are placed under the skin, while Non-Tunneled catheters are placed directly into a large vein.

Tunneled catheters are a permanent type of catheters used to deliver medicines to patients incapable to regularly inject medicines or orally administrator the same. These tunneled catheters are placed or tunneled under the skin and placed into a vein in areas like the neck, groin, liver, chest, and so on.

Non-tunneled catheters are temporary types of catheters used to deliver medicines to patients incapable to regularly inject medicines or orally administrator the same. These non-tunneled catheters are placed directly into a large vein that has a direct connection with the heart.

Comparison Table Between Tunneled and Non-Tunneled Catheter

Parameters of ComparisonTunneled CatheterNon-Tunneled Catheter
LocationTunneled catheters are placed under the skin into a vein.Non-Tunneled catheters are placed directly into a large vein.
TypeTunneled catheters bare permanently placed.Non-Tunneled catheters are temporarily used.
InsertionTunneled catheters are more difficult to place than a Non-Tunneled catheters.Non-Tunneled catheters are easier to place than a tunneled catheters.
RemovalTunneled catheters are tough to remove.Non-Tunneled catheters are easier to, remove.
FunctionTunneled catheters are usually used for antibiotic administration, chemotherapy and so on.Non-tunneled catheters are usually used for IV therapy, draw large amounts of blood and so on.

What is Tunneled Catheter?

Tunneled catheters are a subtype of catheters used to administer medicines to patients in whom the power or oral ingestion or multiple needle insertions are not possible. Tunneled catheters are called tunneled because the tubes of the catheters are placed in such a way that they make a tunnel beneath the patient’s skin before opening into a vein.

The veins are almost always chosen to be either in the neck, groin, near the liver or chest. These areas are rich in important blood carrying veins. The tunneled catheters continues up to the heart. These catheters have a cuff placed near the external exit point in the body of the patient to avoid backflow of medicines or blood in time as these are placed permanently or for large periods.

The insertion of a tunneled catheters must be done by an operation as well as the removal has to be done via an operation under medication and supervision of a doctor. Thus tunneled catheters are only placed when necessary for a patient.

The advantage of a tunneled catheters lies in the direct communication with the heart but a lot of complications may occur with tunneled catheters such as infections, blood clots, damage to inserted vein and so on. This regular checkup is necessary.

What is Non-Tunneled Catheter?

Non-Tunneled catheters are a subtype of catheters bused to administer medicines to patients in whom the power of oral ingestion of multiple needle insertions is not possible for the time being. Non-Tunneled catheters do not have any canal under the skin but are directly connected to major blood vessels in the body in areas like the neck, back, groin, feet, chest, stomach and so on.

The most commonly used vein is the internal jugular vein connected to the heart. Non-Tunneled catheters are placed for temporary functions and are removed when the need does not persist or the patient is able to register needle insertions.

The insertion of a non-tunneled catheters are easy and no operation is required also the removal is also done without any operation. However clinical supervision is necessary to aim at the right blood vessel. Non-tunneled catheters do not have any cuff as well because the catheters being temporary do not pose much threat of blood backflow.

The advantage and disadvantages of non-tunneled catheters are similar to a tunneled one, however, it runs at low risk of any kind of infection or complication in comparison to a tunneled catheters.

Main Differences Between Tunneled and Non-Tunneled Catheter

  1. Tunneled catheters are placed with a tract under the skin whereas non-tunneled catheters do not have any such tunnels.
  2. Tunneled catheters possess cuffs whereas non-tunneled catheters lack any form of cuffs.
  3. Tunneled catheters usually have a longer tract or tube inserted into the body whereas non-tunneled catheters have a shorter tract.
  4. The communication with the heart or blood is less direct in the case of tunneled catheters in comparison to non-tunneled catheters.
  5. Chances of infection are high in the case of tunneled catheters in comparison to non-tunneled catheters.
  6. Tunneled catheters are permanently placed in the body of a patient while non-tunneled catheters are placed temporarily.

Conclusion

Catheters can be of great use to avoid multiple needle insertions in the body to draw blood or administrator medicines and provide a direct pathway for the medicines to work on the body and also among people undergoing chemotherapy. Usually, the catheters are flexible and can be easily carried around with oneself and this is gaining popularity among patients requiring frequent blood work.

However the risk of blood clots in the lumen of the catheters or backflow of blood or infections like central line-associated infections, bacteria overgrowth and such are high in case of any kind of catheters insertion. Some of the most used catheters are Quinton catheters used worldwide to treat patients.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3132329/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S154855951200081X
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