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What is a Foley Catheter?

A Foley catheter is a flexible tube that is put through the urinary opening (urethra) and into your bladder. The device drains your urine into a drainage bag. A small balloon filled with sterile water is placed inside your bladder to hold the catheter in place. 

To care for your catheter, you need the following supplies: 

  • Soap and water 
  • Washcloth and towel 
  • Strap or tape that keeps the Foley catheter in place 

Cleaning the Catheter

Twice every day—in the morning and in the evening—wash the area where the catheter enters your urethra. Follow these steps: 

  1. Gather your supplies. 
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water. 
  3. Look carefully at the place where the catheter enters your urethra. Check for any swelling, redness or drainage (such as white or yellow pus or blood). If you see any of these symptoms, call Telehealth Nursing at 651-229-3890.
  4. Gently wash the area around the catheter with soap and water. Be careful not to pull on the catheter tubing. 

    FOR MALES: Be sure to wash the catheter as well as your penis and scrotum. If you’re not circumcised, gently pull your foreskin back and wash all exposed skin surfaces. Return your foreskin over the tip of your penis. If your foreskin is not returned, circulation can be affected, which can lead to tissue damage. If your foreskin is stuck and cannot be returned, this is a medical emergency. Go to a nearby emergency room. 
  5. After washing, rinse well to remove all the soap, and pat the entire area dry to prevent skin breakdown. 
  6. Secure the catheter to your leg with a strap or tape. Don’t let the catheter tug or pull, as that can cause irritation. 
  7. Wash your hands with soap and water. 

Emptying the Drainage Bag

Empty a drainage bag when it’s just over half-full. Since you only have your catheter for a short period of time, there is no need to change the drainage bag.

To empty a drainage bag, follow these steps: 

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. 
  2. Use a container that displays measurement markings if you’re supposed to keep track of how much urine you put out. 
  3. Remove the drain tube from the cover/holder on the bottom of the bag. 
  4. Hold the bag drain over the container. Open the clamp on the drain tube so urine empties into the container. 
  5. When the bag is empty, close the clamp on the drain tube. Use a clean paper towel or tissue to dry the end of the drain tube. Then place the tube back into the cover/holder. 
  6. Take note of the urine’s color, smell and amount. Urine should be clear and have a light yellow color with a mild smell. If you’re supposed to keep track of your urine output, write down the amount, along with the current date and time.  
  7. Pour the urine into the toilet; flush; rinse the container with water; and then pour the water into the toilet. Set the container in a clean area until you need it again. 
  8. Wash your hands with soap and water. 

When to Call Gillette:

Call Gillette TeleHealth if any of the following occurs: 

  • Signs or symptoms of a urinary tract infection
    • Fever 
    • Chills 
    • Frequent, urgent and/or painful urination 
    • Abdominal cramping 
    • Increased leakage 
    • Increased odor 
  • Signs your catheter might be plugged
    • Feeling of bladder fullness 
    • Putting out an unusually small amount of urine 
    • No drainage of urine since you last emptied your drainage bag 
    • Urine leaking around the tube 
    • Blood in your urine 
    • Large amount of mucous/sediment seen in urine 

Flushing the Catheter

If your catheter is plugged, it may need to be flushed. Flushing is a procedure used to help keep urine flowing if a plug in the catheter is suspected.  If you were sent home from the hospital with a urinary catheter, it may be necessary to flush the catheter. 

To flush your catheter, you need the following supplies: 

  • Prefilled saline syringes 
  • Alcohol wipes 

To flush a catheter, follow these steps:

  1. Wipe the access port with an alcohol wipe. 
  2. Remove cap from prefilled saline syringe.
  3. Attach prefilled syringe to access port.
  4. Pinch off tubing below access port to stop urine flow. 
  5. Slowly push in the saline solution.
  6. Disconnect the syringe once empty. 
  7. Keeping the tubing pinched, repeat steps 2-5 for a total of 3 syringes (30mLs). 
  8. Release pinched tubing to allow urine to flow.

The access port is yellow in the photo below.

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team. If you are a Gillette patient with urgent questions or concerns, please contact Telehealth Nursing at 651-229-3890.