You have an indwelling catheter (tube) in your bladder. "Indwelling" means inside your body. This catheter drains urine from your bladder into a bag outside your body. Common reasons to have an indwelling catheter are urinary incontinence (leakage), urinary retention (not being able to urinate), surgery that made this catheter necessary, or another health problem.
You will need to make sure your indwelling catheter is working properly. You will also need to know how to clean the tube and the area where it attaches to your body so that you do not get an infection or skin irritation. Make catheter and skin care part of your daily routine.
Avoid physical activity for a week or two after your catheter is placed in your bladder.
You will need these supplies for cleaning your skin around your catheter and for cleaning your catheter:
Follow these skin care guidelines once a day, every day, or more often if needed:
Follow these steps two times a day to keep your catheter clean and free of germs that can cause infection:
Women will attach the catheter to their inner thigh. Men will attach it to their belly.
You will need to check your catheter and bag throughout the day.
A urinary tract infection is the most common problem for people with an indwelling urinary catheter.
Call your doctor or nurse if you have signs of an infection, such as:
Also call your doctor or nurse if:
Chochran S. Care of the indwelling urinary catheter: is it evidence? J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2007 May-Jun;34(3):282-8.
Feneley RC. An indwelling urinary catheter for the 21st century. BJU International. 2012 June;109(12):1746-9.
Updated by: Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital; and Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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