Urinary Catheters and Catheter Care

Some types of surgery or treatment for male specific cancer may require a urinary catheter to be inserted. A urinary catheter is a drainage tube that allows urine to drain freely from the bladder.

How Catheters Work

A catheter is a plastic tube that drains urine from the bladder. It can be connected to a leg drainage bag or a bigger bag which can be used on its own or attached to the leg bag, for drainage at night.

The catheter is held inside the bladder by a small balloon that is inflated with sterile water following insertion. This stops the catheter coming out unless properly removed by deflating the balloon.

The catheter balloon tends to rest over a sensitive area of nerves in the bladder and these nerves are connected to nerves in the penile area. The irritation caused by the position of the balloon may make people feel that they need to pass urine urgently and sometimes a small amount of urine may be flow from around the catheter. Sometimes using a strap or tape to fix the catheter to the thigh or top of the leg may prevent it from pulling or dragging and can help reduce this irritation.

Important Points

  • It is important to clean around the penis as instructed by the specialist team and avoid any perfumed toiletries which may cause skin irritation or delay the healing process.
  • The catheter should not be pulled or tugged.
  • It is very important to drink 2–3 litres of fluid daily to help flush the urine through. Water-based drinks tend to prevent bacteria forming, which will in turn help prevent urinary infection.
  • When emptying or connecting catheter bags, hands should always be washed thoroughly with soap and water, before and afterwards.

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