What is a Urinary Catheterisation used for?

By  , Expert Content
Mar 02, 2012

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Urinary catheter is used to drain and collect urine from the urinary bladder. The urine is collected in a drainage bag. The three main types of catheters that are used include indwelling catheter, condom catheter and intermittent (short-term) catheter. The catheter may be inserted for a short or long-term basis depending on the person’s medical condition.

Short-term urinary catheter

A short term catheter may be inserted to:

  • keep the patient dry and manageable during and after certain surgeries such as surgery  on the prostate or genitals, hysterectomy
  • drain the bladder while a woman is giving birth
  • monitor urine output in sick patients in intensive care situation or unconscious
  • drain the bladder in case of acute retention of urine
  • clear any blood clots and debris in the bladder following injury to the bladder

Long-term urinary catheter

Long term catheter may be used:

  • when the person has certain medical problems such as spinal cord injury or dementia that cause urinary incontinence
  • when there is an obstruction in the urinary tract (such as a bladder stone or in men, a swollen prostate gland) and surgery or medication cannot relieve the obstruction immediately
  • a person confined to bed and is too weak to go to the toilet in the normal way

Permanent urinary catheter

Permanent catheterisation may be done if:

  • someone has a medical condition that affects the nervous system, which causes urinary incontinence such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis
  • there is serious trauma to the spine, pelvis or bladder, which causes loss of control of the bladder in the normal way

Other uses

Occasionally, urinary catheter may not be used for draining urine from the bladder due to a problem with the urinary tract. For instance, it may be used to deliver medication directly into the bladder to treat bladder cancer or a urinary catheter may be inserted to obtain a clean urine sample for culture and sensitivity when specially required.



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