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Indwelling Catheters

An indwelling catheter (sometimes also called a foley catheter) is one that is left in the bladder for a period of time. It is held in place by a small balloon. It may either drain freely attached to a urine drainage bag or leg bag or it may be used with a catheter valve to enable intermittent emptying of the bladder.

Indwelling catheters can be hazardous if used incorrectly. Read the guidance below for important safety information.

More likely to suit you if...Less likely to suit you if...
  • Your leakage is associated with urinary retention
  • You (or a helper) are unable to do clean intermittent catheterisation
  • You have found pads to be unsuccessful or inappropriate
  • Your skin is severely damaged in the pad area
  • Your urethra is damaged
  • You have poor memory and mental function
  • Urinary tract infection is a major concern  for you

Top Tips

  1. If you are catheterised try wearing open crotch knickers that allow easier positioning of your catheter, also stockings worn with a suspender belt are less restricting than tights
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  3. If you have an indwelling catheter movement of the catheter tube in the urethra is uncomfortable and causes enlargement of the urethral opening leading to soreness in both males and females. Wearing stretchy control knickers allows you to arrange the catheter tube and catheter valve (if you have one fitted) in a comfortable position and prevents it moving around. Alternatively French knickers are comfortable as the satin fabric allows free movement
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  5. Always use a catheter valve but have a bag on when you’re out. If your bladder starts to spasm because it’s full you can open the valve and pass urine into the bag.
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  7. If you have an indwelling catheter with a valve and you are going out for the day, connect it to a leg bag with a catheter retaining strap. When your bladder gets full you can empty in to the bag and then find a loo.
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  9. If you wear a valve connected to a legbag you can operate the catheter valve under jeans and skirt and you don't have to touch the catheter at all
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Continence Product Advisor

Incontinence can often be cured. Incontinence is a problem with one or more underlying causes that can often be cured or improved. Whatever your age seeking help is always advisable. Take the first step to getting help by contacting a health professional or continence organisation in your country.

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