UNDERSTANDING FOLEY CATHETERS
What is a Foley Catheter?
The Foley self-retaining balloon catheter, designed by Dr. Frederic Foley in 1929, is a flexible tube inserted into the urethra to drain urine from the bladder when a patient is unable to do so independently. Introduced to the market in 1935 by the C.R. Bard Company, the Foley remains the most commonly used indwelling urinary catheter in the world today.
Foley indwelling catheters are prescribed by a physician and inserted by healthcare professionals in a clinical setting. The tubing consists of two separate channels, one to drain urine away from the bladder and the other to inflate the balloon with sterile water after insertion to hold the catheter in place. On average, Foley catheters are routinely cared for every 30 days and fully changed every 3 months, absent any complications.
Catheter - a tubular, flexible instrument, passed through body channels for withdrawal of fluids from (or introduction of fluids into) a body cavity.
Urinary Catheterization - the insertion of a blunt-ended, rubber or plastic tube into a patient's bladder through the urethra used as a conduit to drain urine from the bladder into an attached bag or container.
Indwelling Catheter - A hollow tube left implanted in a body canal or organ, especially the bladder, to promote drainage.
*Sourced from https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/
TYPES OF FOLEY CATHETERS
2-Way Foley Catheters
An indwelling catheter with two ports - one to drain urine away from the bladder and into a drainage bag and the other for inflating the Foley balloon.
3-Way Foley Catheters
An indwelling catheter with three ports - one for urine drainage, one for Foley balloon inflation and a third port for bladder irrigation to prevent or manage blood clots.
Silicone Foley Catheters
An ideal choice for long-term catheterization, all-silicone Foley catheters cause less friction resulting in fewer injuries and less irritation to the urethra. They are also the preferred option for patients with latex allergies.
Coated Foley Catheters
Coated catheters are made of latex and covered with various materials for different purposes. Silicone Elastomer-Coated Latex Foley Catheters ease insertion; and Silver-Coated Foley Catheters, Hydrogel-Coated Foley Catheters or a combination of the two coatings are clinically proven to reduce urinary tract infections.
Flexible silicone or latex tubing drains urine from bladder. Catheter extension tubes are available for attachment to leg bags or bedside drainage bags.
Once inserted, a small balloon at the tip of the Foley is inflated with sterile water to hold the catheter in place. It can easily be deflated for removal.
Two-way Foley catheters have two ports, one for drainage and the other to inflate the balloon. Three-way Foleys have a third port for bladder irrigation, primarily used to flush out blood and clots with the use of a syringe.
Urinary Drainage Bags
Drainage bags attach to the tubing to collect urine. Made of durable plastic, leg bags and belly bags usually have a fabric backing for comfort against the skin. Other styles include bedside and night-time bags available in multiple sizes.
BASIC FOLEY CATHETER PARTS
Foley Catheter Indications
Depending on the cause of urinary retention or incontinence, indwelling catheterization may be prescribed by a qualified healthcare professional. Foley catheters may be indicated in the following instances:
Common Short-Term Uses
- Acute Urinary Retention as a result of temporary nerve injury or medications like anesthesia, paralytics, or opioids;
- Acute Bladder Outlet Obstruction from an enlarged prostate, urethral stricture, blood clots, or pelvic prolapse;
- Accurate monitoring of urine output in critically ill or surgical patients;
- Following gynecological or urological surgery;
- During gynecological, urological, and any prolonged surgical procedure, or when large amounts of diuretics or infusions will be used in the procedure.
Common Long-Term Uses
- Chronic urethral obstruction due to congenital defects or injury where intermittent catheterization has stopped working or is not possible;
- To improve comfort for patients with irreversible or chronic medical conditions like quadriplegia, metastatic disease, coma, mental impairment, or end of life care;
- For incontinence care when a caregiver cannot be present.
*Information sourced from CatheterOut.org and UFHealth.org
Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI)
A urinary tract infection is an infection of the bladder or kidneys. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections, or CAUTIs, occur when bacteria enters the bladder by traveling along catheter tube. The longer an indwelling catheter is in place, the higher the risk of a CAUTI. Urinary tract infections can be painful and potentially life-threatening, but are treatable with antibiotics when tended to in a timely manner. To reduce the risk of contracting an infection, diligent commitment to proper hygiene during insertion and daily cleansing is imperative.
Possible Symptoms of a UTI include but are not limited to:
- Burning sensation or pain in the lower abdomen or around the groin;
- Burning sensation while urinating;
- High fever and/or chills;
- Mental Confusion;
- Cloudy or bloody urine with a strong odor;
- Strong, frequent urge to urinate.
Contact your healthcare professional immediately if you believe you have a UTI.
FOLEY CATHETER INDICATIONS & RISKS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long can a Foley catheter stay in place?
The length of time a Foley catheter remains in the body depends on various factors including the material the catheter is made of and the patient's propensity for blockages, infections or other complications. Conditions permitting, a catheter can stay in place for as little as two weeks or as long as twelve weeks.
The most commonly prescribed indwelling catheter, the Foley is the catheter of choice to manage in-home nursing care and hospice patients requiring long-term bladder drainage. In these situations, the catheter frequently stays in place for significantly longer periods and will need to be changed at least once every three months.
How do I flush a Foley catheter?
Use catheter irrigation supplies to flush a Foley catheter by following the steps below:
- Sanitize your hands with soap and water.
- Open a sterilized syringe pack and fill it with 30ml of ordinary saline.
- Lay a clean towel below the catheter where the drainage tube connects.
- Pinch the catheter between your thumb and forefinger.
- Inject a total of 60-120ml of saline solution into the Foley catheter and slowly withdraw the fluid using a syringe.
How do I empty a Foley catheter bag?
Maintaining your catheter equipment, including your urinary drainage bag, is imperative to avoid potential complications like catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). Learning how to properly empty and clean your catheter bag is an important part of that process. Below are steps on how to drain a Foley catheter bag:
- Clean your hands with warm water and soap.
- Rinse the area around the catheter connection with water and soap.
- Release the bag from its holder or straps.
- Raise the drainage tube.
- Position the bag over a toilet or tray so it can catch any overflow. Be sure not to drop it as you will need to get a replacement.
- Remove the clamp or stopper attached to the Foley balloon and empty it by opening the valve.
- Always remember to clean the catheter bag after emptying it and hang it up to dry.
What fluid is used to inflate a Foley catheter balloon?
A Foley catheter is a unique urinary device that has a small balloon at its tip. Upon insertion, the Foley balloon is inflated through a secondary tube with approximately 10 ml of sterile water to hold the catheter in place. The exact amount of fluid varies depending on the size of the catheter and the unique anatomy of each patient.
What is the difference between an intermittent catheter and a Foley catheter?
Foley catheters have a unique tip attached to a balloon device. Once inserted, the balloon is inflated with a sterile solution to hold the catheter in place in the patient’s bladder. The tube is attached to a urinary drainage bag or leg bag depending on the individual's condition. Foley catheters remain in the urinary system and are typically intended for long-term use under medical supervision. Studies show that Foley catheters coated with silver and hydrogel are highly reliable in reducing cases of CAUTI (or Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections) among patients.
Intermittent catheters, however, are used to self-catheterize on demand and do not remain in the body after voiding. An intermittent catheter can attach to a urine collection bag or empty directly into a toilet. Patients typically self-catheterize more than 6 times a day. To help reduce irritation and friction, catheter lubricants are applied to the tubing before insertion.
MEDICAL ADVICE DISCLAIMER
The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, charts, and any other material on this site, is intended for informational purposes only and does not take the place of medical guidance provided by your physician. No information on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a qualified medical professional about your condition or circumstances before undertaking a new healthcare regimen.