Foley catheter


A Foley catheter, also known as an indwelling urinary catheter, is a medical device used to drain urine from the bladder into a collection bag when an individual is unable to urinate on their own. The catheter consists of a thin, flexible tube made of rubber or plastic that is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. It has two separate channels: one for urine drainage and another for inflating a balloon at the tip of the tube. The balloon, filled with sterile water, keeps the catheter securely in place within the bladder.

When in use, the catheter is connected to a collection bag that can be attached to the leg during waking hours. At night, a larger collection bag may be used, which can be hung from a hook or placed on a flat surface near the bed. Foley catheters are considered safe and come in various sizes to accommodate individuals of all ages and body types.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

When you are unable to urinate on your own, healthcare providers commonly use Foley catheters to drain urine from your bladder. This could happen as a result of:

  • An epidural injection, which may temporarily affect your bladder control.
  • Enlargement of the prostate.
  • Scarring.
  • Surgery on your prostate or genitals.
  • Urinary incontinence.
  • Urinary retention.

Some other uses for a Foley catheter include the following:

  • Bladder drainage during surgery.
  • Determining the exact amount of urine output.
  • Giving medication straight to your bladder.
  • Reducing bleeding after surgery or as a result of injuries.


Urinary tract infection is the main risk associated with using a Foley catheter. Your chance of getting a urinary tract infection (UTI) increases with the length of time you use a Foley catheter. A Foley catheter should only be used for a maximum of three months.

The following risks for using Foley catheter includes:

  • A painful burning or cramping sensation in the surrounding area of your bladder
  • Bleeding.
  • Urethral damage.
  • Urine leakage.


A healthcare provider will begin by cleaning your genital area with antiseptic to prevent infection and applying numbing gel and lubricant to minimize discomfort. Once you’re numb, they’ll insert the Foley catheter into your bladder, allowing urine to drain into a collection bag. The catheter is secured by filling a balloon at its tip with sterile water, and the tube and bag are then strapped to your leg with some slack to avoid pulling or discomfort. If long-term use is necessary, the provider will teach you how to perform self-catheterization.

Proper care of your Foley catheter involves thorough hand washing with soap and water before and after handling the catheter and collection bag. The catheter tube should be cleaned at least twice a day with soapy water and dried gently. The collection bag should be emptied every two to three hours, or every eight hours if it’s a larger bag. To empty the bag, wash your hands, open the clamp, drain the urine into a toilet or measuring container, clean the drainage port, and then wash your hands again. When changing the bag, follow similar steps: wash your hands, empty the bag, clean the connection, disconnect the bag, and attach a new one. Used bags should be cleaned with soap and water, and occasionally rinsed with a vinegar solution to reduce odor and infection risk.


The main advantage of a Foley catheter is that it makes it possible for you to continuously empty your bladder. Inability to completely empty your bladder can result in:

  • Having permanent damage to your bladder or kidneys.
  • Swelling or having distended bladder.
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI).

A Foley catheter could only be required while you recover from a disease or treatment. You won’t need to use it after you heal. However, you might have to use a Foley catheter for weeks or months if you are unable to urinate on your own.

You might need to use a Foley catheter on a permanent basis in specific situations. You will receive instruction from your healthcare provider on how to place and maintain the catheter so that it won’t prevent you from engaging in your daily activities, such as taking a bath, going swimming, traveling, and engaging in sexual activity.

If you are experiencing any problems about your Foley catheter, get in touch with your healthcare provider. Seek immediate medical attention if you have the following:

  • Fever (higher than 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius).
  • Cloudy urine.
  • Strong or foul odor.
  • Leakage.
  • Abdominal pain or feeling of fullness.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Less or no urine is flowing in the tube and collection bag.
  • The Foley catheter dislodged.