Indwelling Urinary Catheter Insertion

What is Indwelling Urinary Catheter Insertion

For people with certain conditions, urine is not able to move normally through the part of the body that drains urine from the bladder (urethra). An indwelling urinary catheter is a thin, sterile tube (catheter) that is placed (inserted) into the bladder through the urethra to help drain urine out of the body.

After the catheter is inserted, it is held in place by a small balloon on the catheter that is filled with sterile water. Urine drains from the catheter into a drainage bag outside of the body.

An indwelling urinary catheter may be needed if you have urinary retention problems or bladder obstruction. It may also be needed during and after surgical procedures and for other medical conditions.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have.
  • Any blood disorders you have.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Damage to other structures or organs.

What happens before the procedure?

  • Your health care provider will inspect your urethra before inserting the catheter.

What happens during the procedure?

  • To lower your risk of infection:
    • Your health care team will wash or sanitize their hands.
    • Your skin will be washed with soap.
  • A lubricant will be placed on the catheter to ease the insertion of it into the urethra.
  • The catheter will be inserted into the urethra until you can see urine in the drainage bag. After the urine starts to flow, the catheter may be inserted another couple of inches (about 5 cm).
  • Sterile water will be used to inflate the balloon to hold the catheter in place.
  • After the catheter balloon is inflated, it will be pulled back so it is against the narrow opening at the end of the bladder.
  • Your health care provider will check for urine flow into the drainage bag.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Urine in the drainage bag will be emptied and measured by your health care provider while you are in the hospital.
  • Your health care provider will remove the catheter for you. This will be done when the catheter is no longer necessary, which is likely to be before you leave the hospital.

Summary

  • An indwelling catheter is a sterile tube that is placed into the bladder through the urethra to help drain urine out of the body.
  • The catheter will be removed as soon as it is no longer necessary.

Indwelling Urinary Catheter Insertion, Care After

This sheet gives you information about how to care for yourself after your procedure. Your health care provider may also give you more specific instructions. If you have problems or questions, contact your health care provider.

What can I expect after the procedure?

After the procedure, it is common to have:

  • Slight discomfort around your urethra where the catheter enters your body.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Keep the drainage bag at or below the level of your bladder. Doing this ensures that urine can only drain out, not back into your body.
  • Secure the catheter tubing and drainage bag to your leg or thigh to keep it from moving.
  • Check the catheter tubing regularly to make sure there are no kinks or blockages.
  • Take showers daily to keep the catheter clean. Do not take a bath.
  • Do not pull on your catheter or try to remove it.
  • Disconnect the tubing and drainage bag as little as possible.
  • Empty the drainage bag every 2–4 hours, or more often if needed. Do not let the bag get completely full.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after touching the catheter, tubing, or drainage bag.
  • Do not let the drainage bag or catheter tubing touch the floor.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow, or as told by your health care provider.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Urine stops flowing into the drainage bag.
  • You feel pain or pressure in the bladder area.
  • You have back pain.
  • Your catheter gets clogged.
  • Your catheter starts to leak.
  • Your urine looks cloudy.
  • Your drainage bag or tubing looks dirty.
  • You notice a bad smell when emptying your drainage bag.

Get help right away if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have severe pain in your back or your lower abdomen.
  • You have warmth, redness, swelling, or pain in the urethra area.
  • You notice blood in your urine.
  • Your catheter gets pulled out.

Summary

  • Do not pull on your catheter or try to remove it.
  • Keep the drainage bag at or below the level of your bladder, but do not let the drainage bag or catheter tubing touch the floor.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after touching the catheter, tubing, or drainage bag.
  • Contact your health care provider if you have a fever, chills, or any other signs of infection.
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