Urinary Catheter Care Instructions | The Austin Diagnostic Clinic
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Urinary Catheter Care Instructions

male and female foley catheters

Urinary Catheter Care

An indwelling urinary catheter is a flexible plastic tube that is inserted through the opening that carries urine from the bladder to outside of the body (urethra), into the bladder, to drain urine. The tube is kept in place by a small balloon that is inflated once the tube is securely in the bladder. Urine drains into a bag that is attached to the thigh.

A urinary catheter is used when you cannot urinate by yourself. This may occur because of medical conditions, such as prostate enlargement and incontinence, or after surgery for prostate cancer. Urinary catheters are also used when the lower part of the body is paralyzed. Your health professional will decide how long you need to have the catheter.

To care for your urinary catheter at home:

  • Make sure that urine is flowing out of the catheter into the drainage bag
  • Check the area around the urethra for inflammation or signs of infection, such as irritated, swollen, red or tender skin at the insertion site or drainage around the catheter.
  • Keep the urinary drainage bag below the level of the bladder.
  • Make sure that the urinary drainage bag does not drag and pull on the catheter.

Caring for your catheter

If your doctor or nurse has given you specific instructions on caring for your urinary catheter, be sure to follow them. Always wash your hands before and after caring for your catheter.

  • Clean the area around the drainage tube twice each day.
  • Use soap and water to carefully wash around the drainage tube.
  • Rinse well and dry with a clean towel.
  • Do not tug or pull on the drainage tube
  • Unless you pull or tug on your catheter.

Draining the urine collection bag

The bag that collects urine may be strapped to your thigh and you will be provided with a larger bedside bag for night time. You will need to empty the bag at regular intervals, whenever it is half-full, and at bedtime. Be sure to wash your hands before and after emptying urine from your collection bag.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. If you are emptying another person’s collection bag you may wish to wear disposable gloves. Wash your hands before you put on the gloves and after you remove them.
  • Unfasten the tube from the drainage bag.
  • Fasten the tubing clamp and remove the drainage cap.
  • Drain the urine into the toilet. You may also drain the urine into another container and then empty it into the toilet. Avoid touching the tubing or drainage cap on the toilet, the collection container, or the floor.
  • Replace the drainage cap, close the clamp, and refasten the collection tube to the drainage bag.
  • Refasten the collection tube to the drainage bag.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

When should you call our office?

If we have given you instructions about when to notify us, be sure to follow those instructions. Call your doctor’s office if:

  • No urine or very little urine is flowing into the collection bag for 4 or more hours.
  • No urine or very little urine is flowing into the collection bag and you feel like your bladder is full.
  • You have new pain in your abdomen, pelvis, legs, or back.
  • Your urine has changed color, is very cloudy, looks bloody, or has large blood clots in it.
  • The insertion site becomes very irritated, swollen, red, or tender, or you have pus draining from the catheter insertion site.
  • Your urine has a foul odor.
  • Urine is leaking from the insertion site.
  • You have a fever of 101°F (37.8°C) or higher or back or flank pain.
  • You develop nausea, vomiting, or shaking chills.

If you have further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call our office.