Definition of Bladder Catheterization

bladderBladder catheterization – The insertion of a narrow, flexible tube into the bladder through the urethra to drain urine from the body.

Bladder catheterization may be necessary to collect an uncontaminated (sterile) urine sample or to drain urine from the bladder.

The catheter placement may be short term, such as after surgery or during serious illness, or long term, such as when stroke, paralysis, or other condition results in loss of bladder control (complete urinary incontinence).

Long-term catheterization may be intermittent, in which the caregiver periodically inserts the catheter to drain collected urine and then removes the catheter, or indwelling (often called a Foley catheter), in which the catheter remains tethered in the bladder (a small inflatable balloon at the tip of the catheter keeps the catheter from sliding out of the urethra). An indwelling catheter drains into a collection bag which the person or caregiver empties frequently and regularly. A caregiver must replace an indwelling catheter every four to six weeks for hygienic reasons.

Many people who have indwelling catheters or who use long-term intermittent catheterization take antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent urinary tract infection (uti). Bladder catheterization greatly increases the risk for urinary tract infection. Proper hygiene is essential when inserting and removing a bladder catheter and when an indwelling catheter is in place.

See also CYSTITIS; SPINAL CORD INJURY; TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI).

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