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Patient Information

The urinary catheter is frequently called a "Foley."  This is because it is named after its inventor, the famous Minnesota Urologist Dr. Frederick Foley.  There are many different varieties and sizes, but the basic principles are the same.  It is a rubber or silicone drainage tube with retention balloon on the tip.  The retention balloon holds it in the bladder so urine can drain out and collect in a collection bag. It is a closed system to decrease the chances of infection developing. 

Basic Catheter Care

  • Keep the catheter clean by gently washing it with warm water and a mild soap twice a day.
  • Male patients may experience irritation at the tip of the penis where the catheter is coming out. This can be alleviated by keeping the catheter clean and lubricated with KY jelly, Vasaline, or Bacitracin.
  • When changing the bag between an overnight (larger) and the leg (slim and smaller) bag be sure to clean the connectors with an alcohol wipe to help prevent bacteria from contaminating the tubing. Extra alcohol wipes can be purchased at any pharmacy or grocery store.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My doctor instructed me to remove my catheter at home.  How do I do this properly? 
A: Please see the section "Catheter Removal Instructions"

Q:  I removed my catheter today.  My urine was clear before I removed it, but now it's pink/red.  Did I do something wrong?  Is this dangerous? 
A:  This is perfectly normal after catheter removal.  When the catheter slid out, it irritated the urethra and any area that may have operated on  The urine should clear again in 24-48 hours.  If it becomes darker red or you have difficulty urinating, call our office. 

Q:  I recently removed my catheter and now I have a fever.  What should I do? 
A: This could be a sign of infection.  Call our office as soon as possible.

Q:  I currently have a catheter and am experiencing occasional leakage around the tube and bladder discomfort. Is this dangerous? 
A:  Occasional leakage around the tube is usually due to a bladder spasm.  The balloon on the tip (which is resting inside your bladder) will irritate the bladder lining and trigger a bladder spasm.  This is a forceful, involuntary contraction of the bladder muscle that causes urine to be quickly forced out.  Some urine will get forced around the catheter and leak out along side it.  If the prostate, bladder neck, or urethra was operated on, the leaking urine may be pink or red, even though the urine draining in the tube is clear.  This is not dangerous, but can be uncomfortable.  Your doctor may have prescribed medicine to help control bladder spasms. 
    Special note: If you have bladder discomfort, leakage around the catheter, and a FEVER (101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher), then this is a sign of infection.  You should call the office as soon as possible.

Q: I have a catheter and my urine looks bright orange. It's not bloody, it's orange! What's going on? 
A: Your doctor may have prescribed a medicine called Pyridium (phenazopyridine).  This is a medicine to help control bladder pain.  It causes the urine to turn bright orange. The orange color is normal and is not dangerous.  It goes away about 8-10 hours after stopping the medicine.

Q: I have a catheter and it is not draining. I feel like I have to urinate and my belly hurts.  What should I do? 
A: The catheter could be blocked with a clot.  If you were discharged from the hospital with instructions on how to flush the catheter, then perform a catheter flush.  You will need the special syringe that fits into the opening of the catheter and a bottle of sterile saline or water (you would have been discharged with this equipment).  Usually one or two flushes will unblock the catheter and the urine should drain out. 
    If you were not discharged with catheter flush equipment or you performed a flush and the urine is still not draining, then call the office as soon as possible.

Q: Can I drive with a urinary catheter? 
A: No.  The reason is safety.  The tubing may become entangle and obstruct you from safe operation of your vehicle.

Q: Can I go out with a urinary catheter? 
A: Yes.  The leg bag is designed to fit beneath your clothing to be discrete.  If you are feeling well, you can do normal daily activities.  Driving is not permitted with a urinary catheter.

Q: I had surgery on my prostate and had a catheter for a few days.  My urine remained pink for a few days after my catheter was removed, but then became clear.  It has now been about 10 days since my surgery and all of a sudden there is blood in my urine and what appear to be small dark clots.  What is going on? Is this dangerous? 
A: This also happens after bladder surgery.  During your operation your surgeon cauterized the area to stop bleeding.  This area heals by forming a scab over it until the surface underneath regrows.  About one to two weeks after the operation the scab falls off and is urinated out. The surface underneath is healing, but is still raw. This is similar to when you scrape your arm and a scab forms. Eventually the scab falls off and the skin underneath is red and the surface is raw.  When it happens in the prostate or bladder, the urine will turn red again.  It is not dangerous and usually lasts 24-48 hours depending upon how extensive your operation was.  Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during this time to help flush out the bladder.