Home > Health & Wellness > Health Library > Care for an Indwelling Urinary Catheter
A urinary catheter is a flexible plastic tube that's used to drain urine from the bladder when a person can't urinate. The catheter is placed into the bladder by inserting it through the urethra. The urethra is 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 used to keep the catheter in place. The catheter lets urine drain from the bladder into a collection bag. Urinary catheters can be used in both men and women. A catheter that stays in place for a longer period of time is called an indwelling catheter.
A catheter may be needed because of certain medical conditions. These include an enlarged prostate or problems controlling urine. It may be used after surgery on the pelvis or urinary tract. Urinary catheters are also used when the lower part of the body is paralyzed.
When helping a loved one with a catheter, try to be relaxed. Caring for a catheter can be embarrassing for both of you. If you are calm and don't seem embarrassed, the person may feel more comfortable.
Wear disposable gloves when handling someone's catheter. Make sure to follow all of the instructions the doctor has given. And always wash your hands before and after you're done.
Here are some other things to remember when caring for someone's catheter:
The urine collection bag needs to be emptied regularly. It's best to empty the bag when it's about half full or at bedtime. If the doctor has asked you to measure the amount of urine, do that before you empty the urine into the toilet.
When you are ready to empty the bag, follow these steps:
After your indwelling urinary catheter is removed, there are things you can do to take care of yourself.
Be sure to contact your doctor if you notice any problems or if you are unable to urinate at all.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
Current as of:
October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
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