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It is a tube placed in the body to drain and collect urine from the bladder.

Urinary catheters are used to drain the bladder. Your health care provider may recommend using a tube if you have:

Urinary incontinence (leakage of urine or inability to control when you urinate)

urinary retention (being unable to empty the bladder when needed)

Prostate surgery or genitals

Other conditions such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury or dementia

The probes come in many sizes, materials (latex, silicone, Teflon ™) and types (Foley, straight, angled tip). A Foley catheter, for example, is a soft plastic or rubber tube which is inserted into the bladder to empty urine.

Care provider will use the smallest possible probe, in most cases.

There are three main types of probes:

indwelling catheter

probe condom

intermittent self-catheterization


A IUC is one that remains in the bladder. You can use it for a short period or long.

To collect the urine, this probe is attached to a drainage bag. A newer type of probe has a valve that can be opened to let the urine out.

An indwelling catheter can be introduced into the bladder in two ways:

In most cases, the probe is inserted through the urethra. This is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.

Sometimes the health care provider will insert a catheter into the bladder through a small hole in the abdomen. This is done in the hospital or at the doctor's health care provider.

An indwelling catheter is inflated a small balloon at the end. This prevents the probe from slipping out of the body. When it is necessary to remove the probe, the balloon is deflated.



The condom probes can be used in men with incontinence. A probe into the penis is not placed. Instead, similar to a condom on this device is placed. The probe is from this device to a drainage bag. This probe should be changed every day.



You use a flashing probe when you only need to use it sometimes, or do not want to use a bag. You or your caregiver introduce the catheter to drain the bladder and then removed. This can be done once or several times a day. The frequency depends on why you need to use this method.



In most cases, a probe is attached to a drainage bag. There are two types of bags:

A leg bag is a small device that attaches by elastic bands to the leg. It may contain from 300 to 500 milliliters of urine. It is used during the day, because you can hide under pants or skirts. It can be easily emptied into the toilet.

You can use a larger drainage device overnight. It may contain from 1 to 2 liters of urine. The device is hung on the bed.

Keep the drainage bag lower than the bladder so that urine is not returned to this. Empty the drainage device at least every 8 hours or when full.

To clean the drainage bag, remove the probe. Connect a second drainage device to the probe while cleaning the old.

Clean and deodorize the drainage bag by filling it with a mixture of vinegar and water. Or you can use chlorine bleach instead. Let the bag soak for 20 minutes. Hang with the outlet valve open to drain and dry.



To care for an indwelling catheter, clean the area where the catheter exits the body and the catheter itself with soap and water every day. Also, clean the area after all bowel movements to prevent infection very well.

If you have a suprapubic catheter, clean the opening in the abdomen and the probe with soap and water every day. Then cover with dry gauze.

Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent infection. Ask your health care provider how much to drink.

Wash your hands before and after handling the drainage device. DO NOT allow the outlet valve to touch anything. If the output is dirty, clean with soap and water.

Sometimes, there may be a leakage of urine around the catheter. This can be caused by:

A probe is blocked or has a kink

A probe that is too small

bladder spasms


improper balloon size

Urinary infections



Complications catheterisation include:

Allergy or sensitivity to latex


Blood infections (septicemia)

Blood in the urine (hematuria)

Kidney damage (usually only with the use of indwelling catheters for long)

urethral injury

kidney infections or urinary tract

Consult your health care provider if you have:

bladder spasms that do not disappear

Bleeding into or around the probe

Fever or chills

Exhaust large amounts of urine around the probe

Skin ulcers around a suprapubic catheter

Calculations or sediment in the bladder catheter or drainage bag

Inflammation of the urethra around the tube

Urine with a strong odor or is thick or cloudy

Little or no urine draining from the probe and you are drinking enough fluids

If the catheter is clogged, painful or infected, you will need to be replaced as soon as possible.



alternative names

urinary catheter; suprapubic catheters; indwelling catheter; Foley catheter

U.S. National Library of Medicine