About all

Use of foley catheter: Urinary catheters: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Urinary catheters: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

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

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, dementia, or other operations

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

In most cases, your provider will use the smallest catheter that is appropriate.

There are 3 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. The bag has a valve that can be opened to allow urine to flow out. Some of these bags can be secured to your leg. This allows you to wear the bag under your clothes. An indwelling catheter may be inserted into the bladder in 2 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 lower 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 or how much urine needs to be drained from the bladder.


A catheter is most often attached to a drainage bag.

Keep the drainage bag lower than your bladder so that urine does not flow back up into your bladder. Empty the drainage device when it is about one half full and at bedtime. Always wash your hands with soap and water before emptying the bag.


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 drink.

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:

  • A catheter that is blocked or that has a kink in it
  • A catheter that is too small in diameter
  • Bladder spasms
  • Constipation
  • 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
  • Bladder cancer (only after long-term indwelling catheter)

Contact your 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 fluids

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

Urinary catheters – NHS

A urinary catheter is a flexible tube used to empty the bladder and collect urine in a drainage bag.

Urinary catheters are usually inserted by a doctor or nurse.

They can either be inserted through the tube that carries urine out of the bladder (urethral catheter) or through a small opening made in your lower tummy (suprapubic catheter).

The catheter usually remains in the bladder, allowing urine to flow through it and into a drainage bag.

When urinary catheters are used

A urinary catheter is usually used when people have difficulty peeing (urinating) naturally. It can also be used to empty the bladder before or after surgery and to help perform certain tests.

Specific reasons a urinary catheter may be used include:

  • to allow urine to drain if you have an obstruction in the tube that carries urine out of your bladder (urethra). For example, because of scarring or prostate enlargement
  • to allow you to urinate if you have bladder weakness or nerve damage that affects your ability to pee
  • to drain your bladder during childbirth if you have an epidural anaesthetic
  • to drain your bladder before, during or after some types of surgery
  • to deliver medicine directly into the bladder, such as during chemotherapy for bladder cancer
  • as a last resort treatment for urinary incontinence when other types of treatment have been unsuccessful

Depending on the type of catheter you have and why it’s being used, the catheter may be removed after a few minutes, hours or days, or it may be needed for the long term.

Types of urinary catheter

There are 2 main types of urinary catheter:

  • intermittent catheters – these are temporarily inserted into the bladder and removed once the bladder is empty
  • indwelling catheters – these remain in place for many days or weeks, and are held in position by an inflated balloon in the bladder

Many people prefer to use an indwelling catheter because it’s more convenient and avoids the repeated insertions needed with intermittent catheters. However, indwelling catheters are more likely to cause problems such as infections.

Inserting either type of catheter can be uncomfortable, so anaesthetic gel may be used on the area to reduce any pain. You may also experience some discomfort while the catheter is in place, but most people with a long-term catheter get used to this over time.

Read more about the types of urinary catheter.

Looking after your catheter

If you need a long-term urinary catheter, you’ll be given detailed advice about looking after it before you leave hospital.

This will include advice about getting new catheter supplies, reducing the risk of complications such as infections, spotting signs of potential problems, and when you should get medical advice.

You should be able to live a relatively normal life with a urinary catheter. The catheter and bag can be concealed under clothes, and you should be able to do most everyday activities, including working, exercising, swimming and having sex.

Read more about living with a urinary catheter.

Risks and potential problems

The main problems caused by urinary catheters are infections in the urethra, bladder or, less commonly, the kidneys. These types of infection are known as urinary tract infections (UTIs) and usually need to be treated with antibiotics.

You can get a UTI from using either a short-term or a long-term catheter. However, the longer a catheter is used, the greater the risk of infection. This is why it’s important that catheters are inserted correctly, maintained properly, and only used for as long as necessary.

Catheters can also sometimes lead to other problems, such as bladder spasms (similar to stomach cramps), leakages, blockages, and damage to the urethra.

Read more about the risks of urinary catheterisation.

Page last reviewed: 03 February 2023
Next review due: 03 February 2026

How to insert a Foley catheter?

Foley catheter is a type of urinal that differs in the form of a retaining inflatable balloon. The equipment was named in memory of the American urologist Frederick Foley and is actively used:

  • for the removal of urinary fluid;
  • drug withdrawal;
  • in X-ray studies;
  • in obstetrics;
  • in traumatology.

Widespread in medicine due to increased sterility, and large lateral holes provide strong drainage. The device is considered safe for insertion into the bladder due to the high patency through the urethra – suitable for a short or long period.

Indications for catheter insertion

Bladder drainage is a common procedure in urological clinics. The process is presented in the form of introducing a special tube – a catheter – into the bladder. It is used for diagnostic or prophylactic purposes. The use of a Foley catheter to drain the urethra is recommended by doctors if the following symptoms appear:

  • urinary retention;
  • kidney problems;
  • inflammation inside the bladder;
  • diagnosis of the amount of residual urine;
  • administration of drugs into the urethra;
  • operations using anesthesia or standard anesthesia.

If you have at least one of the above symptoms, you should contact your doctor for advice to provide timely assistance to the body!

Types of Foley catheters

When buying a Foley catheter, you should pay attention to the material from which it is made. Depending on the components of the urinal, short-term or long-term drainage will be carried out in the absence of the ability to empty the bladder on their own. Foley catheters are divided into two main types, divided by size into men’s, women’s and children’s.

  1. Latex catheters

When using a latex Foley catheter for more than 30 days, inflammatory or allergic processes are formed. Latex devices with a hydrophilic coating are less traumatic and, upon contact with the water surface, become smooth and slippery – this makes it possible to drain the urethra painlessly.

Main parameters of latex catheters:

  • high strength;
  • high level of elasticity;
  • anti-deformation.
  1. Silicone catheters

Despite the large number of advantages, the main disadvantage is the high cost due to the difficulties in production. Silicone catheters have the following characteristics:

  • human biocompatible component – silicone;
  • high temperature resistance;
  • is intended for long-term catheterization, up to 12 weeks;
  • does not cause allergies due to the biological compatibility of silicone with humans;
  • absence of saline encrustations (formation of blockages) in the catheter;
  • slow growth of bacteria due to silicone material.

The forerunner of silicone catheters is considered to be silver-plated, made of silicone with a layer of silver.

Detailed Instructions for Foley Catheter Insertion

Attention! Only a physician should insert the catheter for safety and ease of insertion. Detailed instructions are given below and are suitable for inserting the catheter into the urethra for both men and women:

  1. Thoroughly clean the vulva, then insert the disposable catheter into the bladder.
  2. Next, attach the special funnel to the connecting tube of the equipment.
  3. Make sure the catheter is secure and fill the balloon with the recommended amount of sterile water.
  4. Drugs can be administered using an additional port in a 3-way Foley catheter.
  5. Check the flow of urinary fluid into the balloon.
  6. Do not pinch or twist the outside of the device.
  7. If overfilled, remove fluid and install new bottle.

Detailed Instructions for Foley Catheter Removal

To remove a Foley catheter, patients are advised to go to the hospital to see their doctor. Removal of drainage from the bladder requires the use of local anesthesia and the insertion of a cystoscope. Inside the urinary canal, the free end of the tube is captured by a special tool – a maniple, after which the Foley catheter is removed from the human body. The operation is performed manually inside a sterile cabinet.

Complications after a catheter that require a doctor’s consultation

If the following symptoms appear after the catheter is removed, the patient should immediately contact the doctor to eliminate the problem:

  • bloody discharge in the urine;
  • bleeding from the vulva;
  • burning in the intimate area;
  • fever;
  • onset of fever;
  • specific smell of urine.

How often should a Foley catheter be changed?

  • Silicone catheter can be used up to 30 days;
  • Latex catheter used up to 7 days;
  • Silver plated is an obsolete type of catheter and is used up to 3 months.

How to care for the catheter?

With proper use of the Foley catheter, cleansing is not required and occurs naturally. To enhance the cleansing properties, patients are given cranberry juice, berries and herbal decoctions in the diet. Flushing required after:

  • appearance of salts on the walls;
  • turbidity of the urinary fluid;
  • clogging of the lumen of the urine output tube.

The fluid is drained every 3-4 hours – this is how long it takes to completely fill the balloon. Urinary fluid is drained from a reusable urinal and washed with antiseptics for subsequent use, and a disposable one is disposed of and replaced with a new sterile balloon.

How do I clean my catheter at home?

For rinsing, use a solution of “Dioxydin” in proportions of 1:40 with water or tablets “Furacillin” 0.1 milligram per 100 milliliters of water. You can rinse with a ready-made remedy from a pharmacy, which the doctor will prescribe for the patient.

Instructions for proper cleaning of the catheter:

  1. Wash your hands and remove the syringe, draw up the solution.
  2. Disconnect the urinal, treat the ends of the tube with antiseptic solutions.
  3. Insert the syringe and slowly dispense the solution.
  4. First pour 20-30 milliliters of solution, after draining repeat the previous steps three times.
  5. Attach the urinal back to the balloon.

Consult a doctor to clean the catheter yourself.

How do I shower with a catheter?

  • you can take a standard shower with a night bag;
  • it is not recommended to take a shower with the device attached to the leg in order to avoid complications;
  • It is strictly forbidden to take a bath with a urinal installed, wait until the Foley catheter is removed, otherwise you risk infection.


Foley catheter is an effective medical device for the treatment of diseases of the urethra and drainage of urinary fluid. Modern catheters do not cause discomfort, are easy to maintain and are sterile. An additional advantage is a wide range of models in terms of size and service life, which greatly simplifies the work for patients or medical professionals.

In the Medprofi store you can buy a Foley catheter for yourself or your family. If you have any questions or need help with the choice, our consultants will be happy to help

The materials posted on this page are for informational purposes and are intended for educational purposes. Determining the diagnosis and method of treatment remains the prerogative of your doctor.

The materials posted on this page are for informational purposes and are intended for educational purposes. Determining the diagnosis and method of treatment remains the prerogative of your doctor.

About the urinary catheter (Foley): how to clean and maintain


Time to read:
Approximately 7 min.

This information will help you learn about caring for your urinary catheter (Foley).

back to top of page

About the urinary catheter (Foley)

A Foley catheter is a thin, flexible tube that is placed through the urethra (the small tube that carries urine out of the bladder) into the bladder. The Foley catheter drains your urine. It is held inside the bladder with a balloon filled with water.

How the Foley catheter works

Urine exits the bladder into the bag through a drainage tube. The urinal is attached to the leg with a special patch Cath-Secure ® .

You will have 2 types of urinals:

  • Foot urinal. This is a urinal that you wear during the day. It holds half a liter of urine.
  • Night urinal. You will wear this urinal in the evening before going to bed. It holds 2 liters of urine.

Parts of the catheter outside your body are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Parts of the Foley catheter and bag

back to top of page

How to care for your Foley catheter

Caring for your Foley catheter:

  • flush the catheter daily;
  • change urinals; you must do this 2 times a day:

    • In the morning, replace your night bag with a foot bag.
    • At night, before going to bed, replace the foot bag with a night bag.
  • Change urinals to new ones once a week; you should also change the urinal if it is clogged or clogged;
  • flush urinals daily;
  • Drink 1-2 glasses of fluid every 2 hours while you are awake to stay hydrated.

There may be traces of blood or urine around the insertion site of the catheter. This can happen while walking or having a bowel movement. It is normal if urine continues to pass into the urinal. If urine does not come into the bag, call your health care provider.

back to top of page

How to make your Foley catheter and leg bag comfortable to wear

  • The tube on the foot urinal should reach to the lower leg with a slightly bent leg. If the tube is too long, you will need to cut it. Your healthcare provider will show you how to do this.
  • The foot urinal must be secured below the knee. This will encourage the flow of urine into it.
  • Attach the leg bag to your lower leg with the Velcro® straps provided by your healthcare provider. Attach the tube to your thigh using the strap.
  • If the straps leave marks on your leg, then they are too tight. Relax them. Tight straps can reduce blood flow and lead to blood clots.
  • Apply a water-based lubricant (such as Astroglide® or K-Y®) to the penis or vaginal opening.
  • Shower daily to keep your penis or vaginal opening clean. This will help prevent infections when using a Foley catheter.

back to top of page

How to shower with a Foley catheter in place

  • You can shower while your catheter is in place.
  • Do not take a bath until the catheter is removed. Bathing with a catheter in place puts you at risk of infection.
  • Always shower with a night bag. It is waterproof. Do not shower with a foot bag. The fabric on the side of such a urinal will not dry quickly.

    • You may find it easier to shower in the morning before changing from a night bag to a leg bag.

back to top of page

How to clean your Foley catheter

You can clean your catheter while in the shower. Follow these instructions:

  1. Prepare everything you need. You will need:

    • Mild soap such as Dove®.
    • 1 Cath-Secure® patch.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    • If you wash your hands with soap, wet them and lather. Rub thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, then rinse. Dry your hands with a paper towel. Turn off the faucet with the same towel.
    • If using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, apply it to your hands. Rub your hands together until it dries completely.
  3. Wash your penis or vagina with mild soap and water.

    • If you have your foreskin (the skin around the glans penis) spared, move it back. Then wash the area and the penis itself.
    • Separate the labia (small folds of skin around the vaginal opening) from the vagina. Then rinse this area from front to back.
  4. Clean the area where the catheter enters your body. This is the urethra.
  5. When cleaning the catheter, make movements from the place of its introduction into the body and down, away from the catheter. Hold the catheter at the site of its introduction into the body so that it does not stretch.
  6. Rinse your perineum well and pat it dry gently.
  7. If you removed the old Cath-Secure patch, attach the catheter to your leg with a new Cath-Secure patch. This will prevent displacement of the catheter.

back to top of page

When to change urinals

You must change your bag twice a day. Change it:

  • In the morning after taking a shower, replace the night bag with a foot bag.
  • At night, before going to bed, replace the foot urinal with a night bag.

Replace your urinals with new ones once a week. You should also replace the urinal if it becomes clogged or clogged.

back to top of page

How to change the urinal

Details on the video

  1. Prepare everything you need. You will need:

    • Clean tissue (not showered) or 4″ x 4″ gauze
    • Night or foot urinal (depending on which urinal needs to be installed)
    • 2 alcohol wipes;
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    • If you wash your hands with soap, wet them and lather. Rub thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, then rinse. Dry your hands with a paper towel. Turn off the faucet with the same towel.
    • If using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, apply it to your hands. Rub your hands together until it dries completely.
  3. Empty the urinal into the toilet. Make sure that the neck of the urinal does not touch the wall of the toilet bowl or the waste container being used. If this happens, wipe it with an alcohol swab for 15 seconds.
  4. Place a clean cloth or gauze under the connection to catch any spills.
  5. Squeeze the catheter with your fingers and remove the used urinal.
  6. Wipe the tip of the catheter with an alcohol wipe.
  7. Wipe the connection of the new urinal with a second alcohol pad.
  8. Attach a clean urinal to the catheter and spread your fingers. Make sure the catheter is tightly connected to the bag so that it does not open or leak.
  9. Check all connections. Straighten out any kinks and kinks in the tubing.

back to top of page

How to care for urinals

Caring for a portable foot bag

  • Empty your foot bag into the toilet every 2 to 4 hours as needed. This can be done through the drain hole at the bottom of the urinal. Do not allow the urinal to fill completely.
  • Do not lie down for more than 2 hours while you are using the foot bag. This may interfere with the flow of urine.

Night bag care

  • The night urinal should always be below the level of the bladder.
  • When you go to bed, hang your night bag on your bed. You can use a small trash can for this. Put a clean plastic bag in the wastebasket. Hang a night bag on the inside of the basket.

Cleaning the urinals

Clean the foot and night bags daily. Follow these instructions:

  1. Prepare everything you need. You will need:

    • white vinegar;
    • cold water.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    • If you wash your hands with soap, wet them and lather. Rub thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, then rinse. Dry your hands with a paper towel. Turn off the faucet with the same towel.
    • If using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, apply it to your hands. Rub your hands together until it dries completely.
  3. Rinse the urinal with cold water. Do not use hot water as it may damage the plastic parts.
  4. To get rid of the smell, fill the bag halfway with a mixture of 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water. Shake the bag and soak it in this mixture for 15 minutes.

    • If you are unable to fill the bag with the mixture, pour it into a measuring cup with a spout, then pour from the glass into a urinal.
  5. Rinse the urinal with cold water. Hang it up to dry.

back to top of page

How to Prevent Infections While Wearing a Foley Catheter

If you have a catheter, follow the guidelines below to help prevent infection.

  • The urinal should always be below the level of the bladder.
  • The urinal should not touch the floor.
  • The catheter must be securely attached to the thigh so that it does not move.
  • Do not lie down on the catheter or block the flow of urine in the tube.
  • Shower daily to keep your catheter clean.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching the catheter or urinal.

back to top of page

General Foley Catheter Care

Can I insert a Foley catheter myself?

No. The catheter is placed by your healthcare provider.

How long can I wear a Foley catheter before it needs to be changed?

The catheter should be changed about once a month if it is not functioning or if you have an infection.

Can I have a bowel movement if I have a Foley catheter?

Yes. The catheter will not affect bowel movements.

Is it possible to get an erection with a Foley catheter in place?

Yes. With the catheter in place, an erection is possible.

Can I drive with a Foley catheter in place?

You can drive with a catheter in place unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.

Can I exercise with a Foley catheter in place?

Ask your healthcare provider if you can exercise with a Foley catheter in place.

Can I swim with a Foley catheter in place?

No. Swimming with a catheter in place is prohibited.

Can I fly with a Foley catheter in place?

Yes. You can fly an airplane with a catheter in place.

back to top of page

When to contact your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:

  • your catheter has fallen out – do not try to insert it yourself;
  • you have a body temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher;
  • you urinate less than usual;
  • urine does not enter the urinal;
  • urine has an unpleasant odor;
  • bright red blood or large blood clots appear in the urine;
  • you have pain in your abdomen (belly) and urine is not flowing into the urinal.

back to top of page

You must have JavaScript enabled to use this form.

Share your opinion

Give us your feedback

Your feedback will help us improve the information we provide to patients and caregivers.