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Foley Catheter Instructions

CAMC Physician's Group - Urology logo

The Foley catheter is a flexible tube that passes through the urinary opening into your bladder. Its purpose is to drain urine. There is a small balloon inflated with water at the end of the tube in your bladder, which keeps it in place. It is important to take good care of it so that you do not develop an infection. It is also important to drink plenty of water.

The leg bag is a smaller drainage bag that can be attached to your leg for convenience.

Caring for your catheter

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Inspect the place where the catheter leaves your body. Use a mirror if you need to. Pull back the foreskin if necessary. Note if there is any swelling, redness or drainage such as blood or pus.
  • Gently wash the following areas with soap and water: around the catheter, the catheter tube itself, the foreskin, penis and scrotum. Take care not to pull on the tube. Rinse off and dry the areas.
  • Wash twice daily; morning and evening.
  • Attach the drainage bag to the bed or chair (if you are using the Foley) or to your leg with the leg strap if you are using the leg bag.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

Caring for your drainage bag and emptying the bag

The catheter should be connected to a drainage bag that collects the urine. You have the option of using the larger Foley bag that can be hung from the bed, etc. or the small leg bag that is strapped to the leg. With either bag you must:

  • Make sure the bag is not higher than your bladder, which would cause urine to drain back into your bladder and increase risk of infection.
  • Keep the tubing kink free.
  • Empty the drainage bag when it is just over half full. It is important to remember if you are wearing the large or small bag as the small one will need to be emptied more frequently.
  • When you change from one size bag to the other be sure to empty the bag with urine.
  • Pour the urine into a container that has measurement indicators prior to flushing. Note the date, time and volume in a notebook and bring it with you to your surgeon. Also note the color and smell and whether there is any blood or pus.
  • After you empty the bag, close the clamp so it will collect urine again.

You must clean the Foley catheter every few days and the leg bag every two weeks. Mix 2 quarts of water and 12 cups of vinegar, pour through the drain portion of the bag and swirl around. Leave the mixture in the bag and place it flat for 30 minutes, making sure the tubing has the mixture in it as well. Drain and rinse with warm water. Dry the outside of the bags and tubing. Do not use any other cleaning mixture for your bags or tubes.

Changing between your Foley catheter and leg bag

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Empty the large drainage bag according to the instructions given.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water again.
  • Put alcohol on a cotton ball and clean the connection between the catheter tubing (soft rubber) and the bag tubing (large).
  • Put a towel under the area where the soft and hard tubing connect.
  • Pinch the soft rubber tubing with your fingers and hold.
  • Disconnect the soft tubing from the larger tubing by twisting. Take care not to pull hard on the catheter.
  • Put the large bag on the towel and connect the leg bag tubing to the soft catheter tube.
  • Use the straps to hold the leg bag around your upper and lower thigh
  • Clean the leg bag with soap and water and hang it to dry.

Call your doctor if:

  • The urine is cloudy and/or has a foul order.
  • Your temperature is 101 degrees or higher.
  • You experience unusual itching, rash or burning around where the catheter leaves your body.
  • Your bladder feels full or you believe the catheter may be plugged.
  • There is blood in your urine.
  • Your urine is not draining.
  • Your catheter falls out.

You may have bladder spasms while you have a catheter, or sometimes after the catheter is taken out. You may feel mild to severe bladder pain, cramping, a sudden need to urinate, or burning when you urinate. These problems are not uncommon. Call to report if they persist without relief.

After the catheter is removed
After the catheter is removed it is not unusual to have blood or dark flecks in the urine following activity. This may last 4-6 weeks.

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