Urinary Catheter Care Instructions

What is a catheter?

Urinary catheters (Foley catheters) are flexible tubes placed into the bladder to drain urine. After a Prostate Procedure, the catheter also helps keep the urethra open during healing. The urethra is the “water channel” connecting the bladder to the outside of the body. The catheter is anchored in place by a soft, water filled balloon at the tip. A drainage bag is placed on the outside end of the catheter to collect the urine. One type is a leg bag, which is a smaller drainage device suitable for daytime use. The other type of drainage bag is a larger drainage device (down drain) that may be used during the night.

How to wear the leg bag

The leg bag is attached with elastic bands to the leg. A leg bag is usually worn during the day since it fits discreetly under pants, and is easily emptied in the toilet. Remember to keep tension OFF the penis, do not allow the catheter bag to pull or tug on the penis.

When the bag is full

When the leg bag fills, it gets heavier and you will feel the elastic bands stretch. It is important not to let the bag get too full. The leg bag will hold about 15 ounces, but should be emptied when it is ½ to ¾ full. Empty the bag in the toilet by opening the valve in the bottom of the bag and let the urine pour out. Be sure to close the valve after emptying the bag. It is important to always wash your hands afterwards.

During the night

Your doctor may give you a larger urine receptacle bag for night time. Before going to bed, you disconnect (and empty) the leg bag and connect the larger bag to the catheter. The larger bag can prevent having to get up during the night to empty. It is disconnected in the morning and can be replaced with the smaller, more concealable leg bag for daytime.

Personal hygiene is important!

You may shower with the catheter in place. Wash the area where the catheter enters the penis twice daily with soap, warm water and rinse well. Always wash your hands before and after handling your catheter. Men may apply a little bacitracin ointment 2x a day to the tip of the penis where the catheter goes in, to keep the catheter from sticking.

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Comprehensive Urologic Care in a Local Setting