catheter is a flexible plastic tube used to drain
urine from your bladder when you cannot urinate by yourself. A doctor will
place the catheter into the bladder by inserting it through the urethra, the
opening that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. When
the catheter is in the bladder, a small balloon is inflated to keep the
catheter in place. The catheter allows urine to drain from the bladder into a
bag that is usually attached to the thigh.
A catheter may be
needed because of certain medical conditions, such as an enlarged prostate, the
inability to control the release of urine, or after surgery on the pelvis or
urinary tract. Urinary catheters are also used when the lower part of the body
Always wash your hands before and
after handling your catheter. Follow all of the instructions your doctor has
given you. Also:
- Make sure that urine is flowing out of the
catheter into the urine collection bag. Make sure that the catheter tubing does
not get twisted or kinked.
- Keep the urine collection bag below the
level of your bladder.
- Make sure that the urine collection bag does
not drag and pull on the catheter.
- Unless you have been told not
to, it is okay to shower with your catheter and urine collection bag in
- Check for inflammation or signs of infection in the area
around the catheter. Signs of infection include pus or irritated, swollen, red,
or tender skin.
- Clean the area around the catheter twice a day
using soap and water. Dry with a clean towel afterward.
- Do not
apply powder or lotion to the skin around the catheter.
- Do not tug
or pull on the catheter.
- Do not have sexual intercourse while
wearing a catheter.
- At night you may wish to hang the urine
collection bag on the side of your bed.
To empty the urine collection bag
You will need to
empty the bag regularly, whenever it is half full, and at bedtime. If your
doctor has instructed you to measure the amount of urine, do so before you
empty the urine into the toilet.
- Wash your hands with soap and water. If you
are emptying another person's collection bag, you may wish to wear disposable
- Remove the drain spout from its sleeve at the bottom of the
collection bag. Open the valve on the spout.
- Let the urine flow out
of the bag and into the toilet or a container. Do not let the tubing or drain
spout touch anything.
- After you empty the bag, wipe off any liquid
on the end of the drain spout. Close the valve and put the drain spout back
into its sleeve at the bottom of the collection bag.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
When to call a doctor