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Urinary catheters

A urinary catheter is a tube placed in the body to drain and collect urine from the

Urinary catheters are used to drain the bladder. Your health care provider may
recommend that you use a catheter if you have:

Urinary incontinence (leaking urine or being unable to control when you urinate)

Urinary retention (being unable to empty your bladder when you need to)

Surgery on the prostate or genitals

Other medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury,

or dementia
Catheters come in many sizes, materials (latex, silicone, Teflon), and types (Foley,
straight, coude tip). A Foley catheter, for example, is a soft, plastic or rubber tube that is
inserted into the bladder to drain the urine.

Your provider will use the smallest possible catheter most of the time.

There are three main types of catheters:

Indwelling catheter

Condom catheter

Intermittent self-catheter


An indwelling urinary catheter is one that is left in the bladder. You may use an
indwelling catheter for a short time or a long time.

An indwelling catheter collects urine by attaching to a drainage bag. A newer type of

catheter has a valve that can be opened to allow urine to flow out.

An indwelling catheter may be inserted into the bladder in two ways:

Most often, the catheter is inserted through the urethra. This is the tube that
carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

Sometimes, the provider will insert a catheter into your bladder through a small
hole in your belly. This is done at a hospital or provider's office.

An indwelling catheter has a small balloon inflated on the end of it. This prevents the
catheter from sliding out of your body. When the catheter needs to be removed, the
balloon is deflated.

Condom catheters can be used by men with incontinence. There is no tube placed
inside the penis. Instead, a condom-like device is placed over the penis. A tube leads
from this device to a drainage bag. The condom catheter must be changed every day.

You would use an intermittent catheter when you only need to use a catheter
sometimes or you do not want to wear a bag. You or your caregiver will insert the
catheter to drain the bladder and then remove it. This can be done only once or several
times a day. The frequency will depend on the reason you need to use this method.

A catheter is most often attached to a drainage bag. There are two types of bags:

A leg bag is a small device that attaches by elastic bands to the leg. It holds
about 300 to 500 milliliters (ml) of urine. You wear it during the day, because you can
hide it under pants or a skirt. You can easily empty it into the toilet.

You can use a larger drainage device during the night. It holds 1 to 2 liters of
urine. You hang the device on your bed.

Keep the drainage bag lower than your bladder so that urine does not flow back up into
your bladder. Empty the drainage device at least every 8 hours, or when it is full.

To clean the drainage bag, remove it from the catheter. Attach a new drainage device to
the catheter while you clean the old one.

Clean and deodorize the drainage bag by filling it with a mixture of vinegar and water.
Or, you can use chlorine bleach instead. Let the bag soak for 20 minutes. Hang it with
the outlet valve open to drain and dry.


To care for an indwelling catheter, clean the area where the catheter exits your body
and the catheter itself with soap and water every day. Also clean the area after every
bowel movement to prevent infection.

If you have a suprapubic catheter, clean the opening in your belly and the tube with
soap and water every day. Then cover it with dry gauze.

Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent infections. Ask your provider how much you should

Wash your hands before and after handling the drainage device. DO NOT allow the
outlet valve to touch anything. If the outlet gets dirty, clean it with soap and water.

Sometimes urine can leak around the catheter. This may be caused by:

Catheter that is blocked or that has a kink in it

Catheter that is too small

Bladder spasms
The wrong balloon size

Urinary tract infections

Complications of catheter use include:

Allergy or sensitivity to latex

Bladder stones
Blood infections (septicemia)
Blood in the urine (hematuria)
Kidney damage (usually only with long-term, indwelling catheter use)

Urethral injury
Urinary tract or kidney infections

Call your health care provider if you have:

Bladder spasms that do not go away

Bleeding into or around the catheter

Fever or chills
Large amounts of urine leaking around the catheter

Skin sores around a suprapubic catheter

Stones or sediment in the urinary catheter or drainage bag

Swelling of the urethra around the catheter

Urine with a strong smell, or that is thick or cloudy

Very little or no urine draining from the catheter and you are drinking enough

If the catheter becomes clogged, painful, or infected, it will need to be replaced right

Endotracheal intubation

Endotracheal intubation is a medical procedure in which a tube is

placed into the windpipe (trachea) through the mouth or nose. In most
emergency situations it is placed through the mouth.

Whether you are awake (conscious) or not awake (unconscious), you

will be given medicine to make it easier to insert the tube.

After endotracheal intubation, you will likely be placed on a breathing


If you are awake after the procedure, your health care provider may
give you medicine to reduce your anxiety or discomfort.

Endotracheal intubation is done to:

Open the airway to give oxygen, medicine, or anesthesia

Support breathing with certain illnesses, such as pneumonia,

emphysema, heart failure, or collapsed lung
Remove blockages from the airway

Allow the provider to get a better view of the upper airway

Protect the lungs in people who are unable to protect their airway
and are at risk for breathing in fluid (aspiration). This includes people
with certain types of strokes, overdoses, or massive bleeding from the
esophagus or stomach.

Risks include:



Trauma to the voice box (larynx), thyroid gland, vocal cords and
windpipe (trachea), or esophagus

Puncture or tearing (perforation) of body parts in the chest cavity,

leading to lung collapse