The Urinary Catheter Project

2015 Conceptual Product Solutions

10-week term project with the Umeå University Hospital and Umeå University


When conceptualizing and designing new types of non-infective urinary catheters, the first thing was to understand the problems, needs and wishes, seen from both the perspective of the users and the healthcare professionals.
The following quote from Calvin M. Kunin framed the design challenge: "(…) to produce an instrument that matches as closely as possible the normal physiologic and mechanical characteristics of the voiding system. It seems to me that this will require the construction of a thin-walled, continuously lubricated, collapsible catheter to restore the integrity the urethra; a system to hold the catheter in place without a balloon; and measures to imitate the intermittent washing out of the bladder urine. Some of these approaches have already been developed but are confounded by patent disputes, development costs, and marketing considerations. Catheter manufacturers have been reluctant to make the necessary investment in research and development. (...) The catheters currently available are inexpensive instruments, but the eventual price to be paid is great indeed. Catheters of the future may be more expensive, but should be well worth the investment."

A special focus was on solutions for long-time usage or indwelling catheters (indwelling means inside the body). The main user group for these types of catheters are users suffering from urinary retention (not being able to urinate), most often elderly men or other types of users who for various reasons need an indwelling catheter for a shorter or longer duration.

Work method

The project started with an introduction to the topic at the Department of Urology at the Umeå University hospital. The students where then able to test the insertion of catheters on practice models used to educated nurses, as well as seeing the procedure being done by professional healthcare workers on real patients, both at the hospital and at the patients own homes. Throughout the study the students ideated, build mock-ups and tested ideas on a group of both researchers and healthcare professionals.



The study resulted in a number of concepts of which some at this point are still being considered or prepared for patenting.


External collaborating partners and tutors:

Madeleine Ramstedt, Researcher at the department of Chemistry.
Katarina Gunséus, Urology therapist (Uroterapeut), Umeå University Hospital.
Dr. Bengt Friedrich, Chief Physican in Urology, Umeå University Hospital.
Dr. Anders Johansson, Senior physician in Clinical Microbiology, Umeå University Hospital.

External project tutor:

Anna Carell, Industrial Designer, Veryday.

Course responsible and internal tutor:

Thomas Degn, Programme Director for the APD programme.