Urinary catheters - what to ask your doctor

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Definition

You have an indwelling catheter (tube) in your bladder. This means the tube is inside your body. This catheter drains urine from your bladder into a bag outside your body.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of your catheter.

Alternative Names

What to ask your doctor about urinary catheters

Questions

How do I take care of the skin around the catheter? How often should I clean the area?

How much water or liquid should I be drinking?

Can I take a shower? How about a bath? Can I swim?

Can I walk around or exercise with the catheter in place?

What supplies do I need to keep in my home to care for my catheter? Where can I get them? How much do they cost?

How often do I need to empty the urine bag? How do I do that? Do I need to wear gloves?

How often do I need to clean the urine bag or catheter? How do I do that?

What do I do if there is blood in my urine? If my urine is cloudy? If my urine has an odor?

If I use a leg bag, how often do I need to change it? How do I empty it when I am in a public bathroom?

Should I switch to a larger bag for nighttime? How do I change this kind of bag?

What do I do if the catheter comes out or off?

What do I do if the catheter stops draining? What if it leaks?

What are the signs that I have an infection?

References

Boone TB, Stewart JN, Martinez LM. Additional therapies for storage and emptying failure. In: Partin AW, Dmochowski RR, Kavoussi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 127.

Vtrosky DT. Urinary bladder catheterization. In: Dehn R, Asprey D, eds. Essential Clinical Procedures. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 30.

Review Date: 
8/10/2020
Reviewed By: 
Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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