You will use a catheter (tube) to drain urine from your bladder. You may need a catheter because you have urinary incontinence (leakage), urinary retention (not being able to urinate), prostate problems, or surgery that made it necessary.
Urine will drain through your catheter into the toilet or a special container. Your doctor will show you how to use your catheter. After some practice, it will get easier.
Sometimes family members, a school nurse, or others may be able to help you use your catheter.
Your doctor will give you a prescription for the right catheter for you.
There are many different types and sizes of catheters. You can buy catheters and other supplies at medical supply stores. Others supplies may include towelettes and lubricant, such as K-Y jelly or Surgilube. Do NOT use Vaseline (petroleum jelly).
Ask your doctor how often you should empty your bladder with your catheter. Usually, you will need to empty it every 4 to 6 hours, or 4 to 6 times a day.
Always empty your bladder first thing in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. You may need to empty your bladder more frequently if you have had more fluids to drink.
Avoid letting your bladder get too full. This increases your risk of infection and other problems.
Follow these steps to insert your catheter:
Most insurance companies will pay for you to use a sterile catheter for each use, and some catheters are meant to be used only once. Many other catheters, however, can be re-used if they are cleaned correctly.
If you are reusing your catheter, you must clean it every day. Always make sure you are in a clean bathroom. Do NOT let the catheter touch any of the bathroom surfaces (such as the toilet, wall, or floor).
Follow these steps:
Throw away the catheter when it becomes dry and brittle.
Call your doctor or nurse if:
Clean intermittent catheterization - male; CIC - male
Cespedes RD, Gerbec JL. Other therapies for storage and emptying failure. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 75.
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 David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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