What is a Catheter?
A catheter is the tube inserted into your
bladder to allow urine to drain. It is held in place with water which
rests at the base of the bladder. The catheter is connected to a
drainage bag. The tap at the bottom of the bag allows you to empty it.
Doctor will have discussed with you the reason for the catheter and how
long it will remain in. It may have been inserted for one of the
- Retention of urine – you were unable to pass urine or empty the bladder fully
- To allow for healing after certain surgery to the urinary system
- For the management of urinary incontinence
Some people require catheters long term. The catheter should be changed every three months.
The drainage bags should be changed once a week. You will be given a leg bag (daytime) and a night bag (large capacity).
HygieneWash your hands before and after emptying the drainage bag.
Have a daily shower, taking particular care to clean around the catheter. If you use soap, always rinse well.
Do not use creams or ointments around this area unless they have been prescribed by your Doctor.
If you experience slight discharge around the tip of the penis, a dressing held in place by your underwear should be adequate.
the leg bag during the day. Strap it comfortably to your thigh. Empty
it regularly so it does not become too full and heavy.
larger capacity night bag connects at the tap of the day bag. You will
be shown how to do this – make sure you remove the protective cap first.
It is important to check that the tubing does not kink or the urine will be unable to drain.
Once you have connected the night bag to the day bag, make sure you open
the tap from the day bag and position the night bag lower than your bed.
Cleaning The Drainage BagAfter
you disconnect the night bag, it needs to be emptied, cleaned and
stored in a dry place. Clean it with warm soapy water (eg. Dishwashing
liquid), rinse with clean water, pat dry and place in a clean towel in
the hot water cupboard. A funnel makes washing and rinsing the inside
of the bag easier.
Leaking Around the CatheterSome
people experience bladder spasms. These occur because the catheter
irritates the bladder. Bladder spasm may cause leakage, discomfort and
the feeling that you need to pass urine. Panadol may help the
discomfort but if it continues to be troublesome you should contact
your District Nurse or GP. Leakage may also occur if the catheter is
not draining. Always check that the tubing is free of kinks and that
the urine is draining.
Fluid IntakeYou are advised to drink at least 2 litres of fluid a day – about 12 cups.
A high fluid intake will promote catheter drainage and reduce the risk of infection or blockage of the catheter.
complication associated with a catheter is infection. You can reduce
the risk of infection by following the previous guidelines.
You should contact your GP if you have symptoms such as:
- Fever, shivering or chills
- Pain in the bladder or back
- Urine is cloudy or has an offensive odour
General AdviceTake care to prevent ‘pulling’ on the catheter – this will cause discomfort and trauma to the bladder and urethra.
the catheter is not draining, first check that the tubing is not
kinked. If there is no drainage and you feel your bladder filling,
especially if the urine is bloodstained, you should phone your GP
promptly. Sometimes the catheter can become blocked by debris or blood
It is not uncommon to have varying amounts of blood in
your urine for some time if you have had surgery to this area. This
may be worse after your bowels are open or after exercise and should
clear with extra fluid intake.
Discharge Information for Patients with a Catheter (10 KB)