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Inability to Urinate (cont.)

Next Steps

Follow-up

When a catheter is left in place after the initial treatment, a visit to a medical professional, usually a urologist, within a few days is generally recommended.

  • Sometimes, antibiotics may be necessary to prevent infections. Catheters are a common cause of urinary tract infections and need routine care. If catheters are necessary for long-term treatment, it is advisable to change them on a regular schedule (typically every three to four weeks).
  • Either of two types of drainage bags can be hooked up to the catheter. A smaller bag can be strapped to the leg (called a leg bag), allowing normal activity without anyone knowing that a catheter is in place. A larger bag may be used at night to prevent waking up at night to empty it. This larger bag is the one typically seen in hospitalized patients hanging by the bedside.
  • Contact your doctor if the catheter stops draining. It is possible that a blood clot, tissue, or debris can plug the catheter. Symptoms of urinary retention can potentially come back and there may be leakage of urine around the catheter. In these situations, the catheter will often require irrigation or replacement.

People with a Foley catheter may experience bladder spasms. The catheter is held in the bladder by a balloon at its tip that is inflated with sterile water after the insertion of the catheter. Sometimes, the bladder will contract to try to expel the balloon.

  • These spasms can be painful and can result in the leakage of urine from around the catheter. Medication is available to treat these symptoms if necessary.

Catheter removal is a simple procedure that can be performed in any medical office.

  • It is best done in the morning, if possible. This allows for the entire day to resume normal urination.
  • If urinary retention continues, the catheter can be replaced later in the day.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/5/2014

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