Type of urinary catheters

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, or dementia 

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 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 deflate 

Condom catheters 

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 

Intermittent catheters 

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 

Drainage bags  

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 

How to care for a catheter

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: 

Catheter that is blocked or that has a kink in it 

Catheter that is too small 

Bladder spasms 


The wrong balloon size 

Urinary tract infections 

Possible complications 

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 infection 

Bladder cancer (only after long-term indwelling catheter 


Call 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 cloud 

Very little or no urine draining from the catheter and you are drinking enough fluid 

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.