Urethral catheter: What’s it for? Is it harmful?

Foley catheter
FB Dr Soarawee
Soarawee Weerasopone, MD

Minimally Invasive Uro-Oncologist
Royal Phnom Penh hospital, Kingdom of Cambodia

Undoubtedly, that I, urologist, was getting used to this thing a “urethral catheterization procedure”. But in the contrary, patients instead that seems to be naïve for this thing here; a urethral catheterization system always terrified them while putting this thing into their urethra. This topic will show on the general frequent asked questions which I always need to educate them before doing the procedure.

Urethral catheterization
Urethral catheter is a common urologic procedure but from the patient’s side, absolutely not.

Q: Why do I need to be retaining the urethral catheter?

A: There should be a medical indicator; for example, inability to void by yourself or to be monitoring urine in critical ill patients.

Q: Is it painful?

A: I won’t say there’s nothing pain. But let me put it in this way; for me as an expert in this kind of procedure then I was always lubricated your urethra along with the pain killer jelly-like for a while before insert the tube to minimize the pain’s sensation. There have been confirmed literatures that the pre-lubrication method will significantly reducing urethral discomfort during the procedure.

Foley catheter 2
Urine bag is common seen in hospitalized patient.

Q: How long will it take to be removed this catheter?

A: If no medical indicator requirement for urethral catheterization, the catheter will be removed quickly and will let you urinate by yourself again.

Q: Will the catheter possibly causing any complication?

A: Yes, it will! As you know that everything will have their own pros and cons. As as well as the urethral catheter does, there are a few examples of the possibility complications could be.

  • Urethral injury – Sometimes if it does not handle this procedure by a specialist or skillful, the urethral injury can be occurred as well.
  • Catheter-induced urinary tract infection – This problem is the most frequent asked question. Normally, the bladder is a sterile location so when we insert something into this organ, it no longer to be a sterilization location anymore. The answer is “Yes” but not too much risky if we’re always keeping a good hygiene. But please don’t be panic about this fact yet. Like I used to mention earlier that everything will have their own pros and cons, whenever the medical indicator is required, the pros is always a lot better than the cons.
Catheter-related urinary tract infection is always our concern.

Q: What is the lifespan of a urethral catheter system?

A: The urethral catheter system has 1 month long lasting to use and it need to be changed if the medical indicator still requires putting on.

Q: How do we take care of the urethral catheter system at home?

A: Here are the instructions.

  • Always do the hand hygiene immediately before and after handling the catheter and use a cleaning glove while handling the drainage system.
  • Urethral catheter can be washed by soap, gentle cleaning agents or water is enough.
  • Get the catheter away from kinking and obstructed.
  • Always keep the drainage system closed, if it disconnected, change the new one.
Urethral catheter can be washed by soap, gentle cleaning agents or water is enough.

If you have any questions, please discuss with your trusted urologist. See you in next article!

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