Understanding a Urinary Catheter
A medical catheter is a thin flexible tube that is inserted into various organs of the human body to help drain fluids during a medical condition or after surgery. A urinary catheter is used during urological treatments. It could be used short term during recuperation (after surgery) or could be a more long term insertion to help drain the urine in case of diseases such as spinal injury, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer etc. The treating doctor or specialist is ideally suited to determine the kind of urinary catheter that needs to be put in place.
What is a Foley Catheter?
Short term use requires short-term or intermittent catheters. These are usually of three types – hydrophilic catheters, closed system catheters, and strait catheters. They are used in post-operative care and in other scenarios where they can be removed easily allowing the body functions to go back to normal.
A Foley catheter or an indwelling catheter is for a long term use and is allowed to stand in the bladder over a period of time. It is usually inserted into the urethra but sometimes doctors may decide to insert it into the urinary bladder through an incision in the abdomen. The Foley catheter can be used by both men and women.
Insertion of the Foley Catheter
Insertion of a Foley catheter is a procedure best left to the doctor or a registered medical nurse. It must not be attempted at home. The catheter is a sterile medical device and the doctor or nurse will wear nitrile gloves while handling it. The urethra, the labia and the surrounding area is thoroughly cleaned with betadine or an anti-septic lotion before insertion to minimize any risk of infection. This also makes the process a sterile one. To minimize friction and discomfort the catheter is generously lubricated with a special water-soluble lubricant that is included in the catheter kit.
After the catheter is inserted through the urethra, the balloon at the end of the catheter (now inside the bladder) is filled up with sterile water. This keeps the catheter in place. The other end of the catheter is attached to a urinary bag that can be drained and cleaned. The doctor or nurse may now observe the bag for a while to ensure it is functioning properly.
Things to remember while inserting a Foley Catheter
- A Foley catheter can remain inserted for about a month. The doctor may ask for a change at an earlier date if an infection is suspected. Any discomfort must be reported to the doctor immediately.
- It is important for the doctor or the medical attendant to wear gloves at the time of insertion of the Foley catheter. If the catheter is touched with a dirty hand or dropped, a new catheter kit should be used.
- If there is any resistance while inserting a Foley catheter, a doctor or specialist should be consulted immediately.
- The syringe from the catheter kit should be saved for deflating the balloon and removal of the catheter.
Risks of Foley Catheter insertion
- One of the greatest risks of having a Foley catheter insertion is an increased chance of contacting a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTI could lead to fever and chills, pain, pus and blood in the urine. If any of these occur it is important to contact a doctor immediately.
- A few patients who have a Foley catheter inserted develop an allergy to the catheter material. Sometimes if the infection or allergy goes unattended, the patient may develop septicaemia as well.
- It is important to drain the urinary bag regularly. If not drained and cleaned properly, it could lead to a kidney infection or even permanent damage.
- The key to proper use of a Foley catheter is to properly clean the urethra during insertion and on a regular basis. The use of sterile gloves while inserting or removing the catheter does a great deal to prevent infection to the doctor or medical attendant.
All medical supplies including Foley catheter and nitrile gloves in India must be bought from reputed medical stores or online medical suppliers such as Smart Medical Buyer. By doing so, you ensure your safety and reduce the risks of medical procedures which need equipment like Foley catheters.