Urinary Catheterisation: When to seek medical advice?

By  , Expert Content
Mar 02, 2012

Urinary catheterisation may be done to manage urinary incontinence, urinary retention or certain other medical problems. The catheter may be inserted for short term or long term use. Insertion of a catheter for long-term use increases the risk of complications. Some of the complications associated with catheter use include:

  • Allergy or sensitivity to latex
  • Urinary tract or kidney infection ( a common complication despite using complete aseptic precautions during insertion and care of catheter)
  • Bladder stones (rare complication noted to occur with very prolonged use of indwelling catheters)
  • Blood infections (septicemia)
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Injury to the urethra (especially common if the catheter is inserted forcefully or roughly)
  • Narrowing of the urethra (this complication usually occurs in long term insertion due to scar tissue formation by the insertion of the catheter)
  • Bladder injury (caused  due to incorrect insertion of the catheter)

Consult your health provider if you have any symptom suggestive of complication due to urinary catheter such as:

  • Blood in urine
  • Bleeding at the site where the catheter exits the body
  • Fever or chills, which last for more than a few days or recurrent fever (even if it is low grade)
  • Significant leaking of urine around the catheter
  • Skin appears red, inflamed or is sore around a suprapubic catheter
  • Presence of stones or sediment in the urinary catheter or drainage bag
  • Swelling or inflammation of the urethra around the catheter
  • Foul smelling or cloudy urine
  • Bladder spasms, which are recurrent or persistent
  • Little or no urine drain from the catheter (even when you are drinking enough fluids)

These symptoms are suggestive of infection or blockage of the catheter. If the catheter becomes clogged, infected or is painful, it should be changed immediately. Your doctor can examine you and diagnose the cause of your symptoms.



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