Urinary Catheter Care at Home After a Procedure

Post procedure Instructions: Going home with a urinary (Foley) catheter

If you are being discharged after your procedure with a urinary catheter in place, this care sheet can help you know what to expect.

What is a urinary catheter??

A urinary catheter is a small, hollow, flexible tube placed in your bladder to drain your urine. It enters your bladder by being passed through your urethra (the tube where your urine exits your body) and into your bladder. After it is in place, a balloon is inflated with water to prevent the catheter from falling out.

What to expect while you have a urinary catheter

  • You may feel as though your bladder is full and you need to urinate. You may have discomfort when changing positions or if the catheter tube gets accidentally pulled. These are normal problems and don’t usually require any special attention.
  • You may have bladder spasms. This can happen after a urological procedure or from irritation from the catheter itself. If they become frequent, call NL Urology at 207-947-0469. There may be medication that can help reduce spasms.
  • You may notice small amounts of blood or urine leaking around the catheter where it enters your body. This is normal and can happen with walking, bowel movements, bladder spasms, or anytime you are exerting pressure on your bladder (lifting, sneezing, coughing, etc.).
  • If the catheter was placed after a urologic procedure, you can expect to see blood in the tubing or drainage bag. This can look red, bright pink and contain clots. This may last for several days after the procedure. To prevent clots from clogging the catheter, be sure to drink 6-8 glasses of water daily, unless you are on a fluid restriction for another condition.
  • You may shower but do not sit in any water (tub, pool, hot tub, etc.) while you have a catheter. Shower using the large drainage bag and hang it off a rail in the shower but keep it below the level of your bladder. If you don’t have a railing, place a clean towel on a small stool and place the drainage bag on that. To prevent infection, never place it directly on the shower floor.
  • Keep “slack” on the catheter so it is not under tension and pulling where it comes out of your body.

Trouble Shooting

If urine has stopped draining from your catheter:

  • Check the tubing to make sure it isn’t kinked or twisted
  • Check the catheter where it enters your body to make sure it isn’t kinked or twisted
  • Make sure the bag is hanging lower than your bladder
  • Change positions

If you have done all these things and you haven’t had urine collecting in the drainage bag after 4-6 hours, contact NL Urology at 207-947-0469.

Drainage Bags

You will have two types of drainage bags. These bags can be switched back-and-forth. Your drainage bag should always be kept at a height lower than your bladder so it can drain properly. Your bag will come with a valve that allows you to empty it directly into the toilet or collection device.

A small drainage bag (also called a “leg bag”) attaches to your leg with straps and fits under your clothing. The leg bag is used during the day when you are able to empty it more frequently. If you wear the leg bag all day, be sure to reposition the bag/securement device every 4 hours to prevent pressure injuries or skin damage on your leg. To reposition the bag, either switch the bag to the other leg or by raising/lowering the leg band.

A larger drainage bag (also called the “night bag,”) should be used at night time and any time you are planning on sleeping, to prevent overfilling of the bag.

Both drainage bags should:

  • Be emptied when they are 2/3 full, when it becomes heavy, or at least every 6 hours, whichever comes first.
  • Be replaced every 5 to 7 days.
  • NEVER be allowed to touch the floor.

How to Care for Your Catheter

Before you leave the recovery area, your nurse will show you how to work the clamps and drainage bags on your catheter. Here are some care tips for the catheter:

  • Always wash your hands and dry them well before and after caring for your catheter or the drainage bag.
  • To prevent urinary tract infection, be sure the tip of the catheter never comes into contact with any surface, including your own hand and fingers.
  • Clean around your catheter and skin around it every day, especially after having a bowel movement. To clean your catheter, gently wash the catheter, (where it exits your body) and the area around it with soap and water. Rinse the catheter and genital area well with clean water and gently pat dry. Do not put powder or lotion on the catheter or on the area where it goes into your body.

NL Urology is available between the hours of 8-5 Mon-Fri to answer questions you may have. We are available after 5pm and on weekends for more urgent matters. During off-hours, your call will be routed through our answering service, but someone will return your call.

Please call the NL Urology office at 207-947-0469 if:

  • Your urinary catheter comes out. Do not try to replace it yourself.
  • No urine has drained from the catheter in 6 hours, and you have tried all the “problem shooting” techniques.
  • You have new pain in your belly, pelvis, legs, or back, or you have a burning sensation in your bladder.
  • You develop nausea, fever, severe chills, or body aches.
  • Your urine develops an unusually foul odor.
  • You have other, urgent symptoms you think may be related to your urology procedure or catheter and need to speak with a doctor.
  • You experience new or worsening symptoms.
  • If you had bleeding from the procedure, and the bleeding is increasing, instead of decreasing, or you begin to see clots in the catheter that weren’t there before.