A urinary 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. Indwelling urinary catheters can be used in both men and women.
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 is paralyzed.
Always wash your hands before and after handling your catheter. Follow all of the instructions your doctor has given you. Also:
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.
If your doctor has given you instructions about when to notify him or her, be sure to follow those instructions. Call your doctor if:
After your catheter is taken out:
Also, it is important to know when you are having a problem and when to call your doctor. After catheter removal, call your doctor if:
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.