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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Care for an Indwelling Urinary Catheter
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
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
Also, it is important to know when you are having a
problem and when to call your doctor. After catheter removal, call your doctor
The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information
Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) provides information about diseases of the
kidneys and urologic system to people with these problems and to
their families, to health professionals, and to the public. NKUDIC answers
inquiries; develops, reviews, and distributes publications; and works closely
with professional and patient groups and government agencies to
coordinate resources about kidney and urologic diseases.
NKUDIC, a federal agency, is a service of the National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). NIDDK is part
of the National Institutes of Health under the U.S. Department of Health and
November 7, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & J. Curtis Nickel, MD, FRCSC - Urology
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