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Urinary catheters - what to ask your doctor


You have an indwelling catheter (tube) in your bladder. This means the tube is inside your body. This catheter drains urine from your bladder into a bag outside your body.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of your catheter.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about urinary catheters


How do I take care of the skin around the catheter? How often should I clean the area?

How much water or liquid should I be drinking?

Can I take a shower? How about a bath?

Can I walk around or exercise with the catheter in place?

What supplies do I need to keep in my home to care for my catheter? Where can I get them? How much do they cost?

How often do I need to empty the urine bag? How do I do that? Do I need to wear gloves?

How often do I need to clean the urine bag or catheter? How do I do that?

What do I do if there is blood in my urine? If my urine is cloudy? If my urine has an odor?

If I use a leg bag, how often do I need to change it? How do I empty it when I am in a public bathroom?

Should I switch to a larger bag for nighttime? How do I change this kind of bag?

What do I do if the catheter comes out or off?

What do I do if the catheter stops draining?

What are the signs that I have an infection?


Goode PS, Gurgio KL, Richter HE, Markland AD. Incontinence in older women. JAMA. 2010;303:2172-2181.

Payne CK. Conservative management of urinary incontinence: behavioral and pelvic floor therapy, urethral and pelvic devices. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 69.

Shamliyan TA, Kane RL, Wyman J, Wilt TJ. Systematic review: randomized, controlled trials of nonsurgical treatments for urinary incontinence in women. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148:459-473.

Shamilyan TA, Wyman JF, Ping R, Wilt TJ, Kane RL. Male urinary incontinence: Prevalence, risk factors, and preventive interventions. Rev Urol. 2009;11:145-165.

Review Date: 9/29/2014
Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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