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Urinary catheters - what to ask your doctor

You have an indwelling catheter (tube) in your bladder. This means the tube is inside your body. This catheter drains urine from your bladder into a bag outside your body.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of your catheter.


How do I take care of the skin around the catheter? How often should I clean the area?

How much water or liquid should I be drinking?

Can I take a shower? How about a bath?

Can I walk around or exercise with the catheter in place?

What supplies do I need to keep in my home to care for my catheter? Where can I get them? How much do they cost?

How often do I need to empty the urine bag? How do I do that? Do I need to wear gloves?

How often do I need to clean the urine bag or catheter? How do I do that?

What do I do if there is blood in my urine? If my urine is cloudy? If my urine has an odor?

If I use a leg bag, how often do I need to change it? How do I empty it when I am in a public bathroom?

Should I switch to a larger bag for nighttime? How do I change this kind of bag?

What do I do if the catheter comes out or off?

What do I do if the catheter stops draining?

What are the signs that I have an infection?

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about urinary catheters


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Payne CK. Conservative management of urinary incontinence: behavioral and pelvic floor therapy, urethral and pelvic devices. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 69.

Shamliyan TA, Kane RL, Wyman J, Wilt TJ. Systematic review: randomized, controlled trials of nonsurgical treatments for urinary incontinence in women. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148:459-473.

Shamilyan TA, Wyman JF, Ping R, Wilt TJ, Kane RL. Male urinary incontinence: Prevalence, risk factors, and preventive interventions. Rev Urol. 2009;11:145-165.

Update Date 9/29/2014

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