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Foley Catheter Insertion


A Foley catheter is a sterile (germ-free) tube that is inserted through your urethra and into your bladder to drain urine. The catheter has a small balloon that is filled with solution to hold the catheter inside your bladder. A Foley catheter is also called an indwelling urinary catheter. It is used when you are not able to pass urine. This may happen after surgery or if you are a man with a prostate gland that has grown large.

Urinary System


Prevent Foley catheter-based infections:

A catheter-based infection can be caused by bacteria (germs) that get into your body along or through the Foley catheter. Catheter-based infections can lead to serious illness and death. Do the following to help prevent catheter-based infections:

  • Drinking liquids: Adults should drink about 9 to 13 cups of liquid each day. One cup is 8 ounces. Good choices of liquids for most people include water, juice, and milk. Coffee, soup, and fruit may be counted in your daily liquid amount. Ask your caregiver how much liquid you should drink each day.
  • Good hand washing is the best way to prevent infection . Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after you touch your catheter, tubing, or drainage bag. Do this to remove germs on your hands before you touch these items. Do this after you touch these items to remove germs that may have been on them. Wear clean medical gloves when you care for your catheter or disconnect the drainage bag. This will help stop germs from getting into your catheter. Remind anyone who cares for your catheter or drainage system to wash their hands.
  • Keep the catheter drainage system closed.
  • Keep the catheter tubing secured to your skin or leg to ensure that it drains well.
  • Ask your primary healthcare provider when your catheter will be removed or replaced with a new one. Your risk for infection is greater the longer you have a catheter.

Foley catheter and drainage bag care:

  • Drainage system care:
    • Your urinary catheter and the drainage bag form a drainage system. Always keep the drainage system closed . This means that there are no openings in the path from the tip of the catheter in your bladder to the drainage bag. It is important to keep the drainage system closed. Your urinary system normally is sterile and a closed drainage system prevents germs from getting into it. Do not disconnect any part of the closed system unless it is necessary such as to change the drainage bag. Always close the drainage spigot after emptying urine out of the drainage bag.
  • Foley catheter care:
    • Always wash your hands. Do this before and after you touch the catheter or the insertion site. Wear clean medical gloves when you care for your catheter.
    • Secure the catheter tube: Secure the tube so you do not pull or move the catheter. This helps prevent bladder spasms (painful cramps). Use medical tape or a strap to secure the tube to your body.
    • Do catheter care as directed: Your catheter and urethral area need to be cleaned every day. Use soap and water when you shower. Ask your primary healthcare provider if you can take a bath while you have a catheter.
  • Drainage bag care:
    • Allow gravity drainage: Do not loop or kink the tubing so the urine can flow out.
    • Position the drainage bag properly: Keep the drainage bag below the level of your waist. Do not lay the bag on the floor or let it touch the floor.
    • Empty the drainage bag when needed: The weight of a full drainage bag can pull on and hurt your urethra. Empty the drainage bag every 3 to 6 hours or when it is ½ to ⅔ full.
    • Clean and change the drainage bag as directed: Ask your primary healthcare provider how often you should change the drainage bag. You may buy a special solution to clean the drainage bag, or you may make a solution with tap water and vinegar or household bleach. Wear medical gloves if you must disconnect the tubing. Do not allow the end of the catheter or tubing to touch anything. Clean the ends with a new alcohol pad or as directed by your caregiver before reconnecting them.

Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You see a layer of crystals inside the tubing.
  • Your urine is not straw-colored, or it has changed color.
  • Your urine smells bad.
  • Your catheter becomes blocked or comes out.
  • There is less urine than usual or no urine draining into the drainage bag.
  • Urine leaks from or around the catheter, tubing, or drainage bag.
  • The closed drainage system has accidently come open or apart.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You see blood in the tubing or drainage bag.
  • You are confused or have other changes in the way that you think.
  • You have pain in you hip, back, pelvis, or lower abdomen.
  • You cannot reach your primary care provider and your catheter becomes blocked or comes out.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Foley Catheter Insertion (Aftercare Instructions)

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