An indwelling catheter helps drain your bladder. The most common type is a Foley catheter.
The Foley catheter is a thin tube that goes into your urethra. It's held in your bladder by a small balloon filled with fluid. The tube drains urine from your bladder into a bag or container. You may have had the catheter for a few days, weeks, or months.
You can remove the catheter at home when your doctor says it's okay to remove it.
How do you remove a Foley catheter at home?
How to get ready to remove a Foley catheter at home
Before you remove your catheter, gather all of the supplies you will need, including the syringe and an absorbent pad. You will be given the same sized syringe that was used to inflate the balloon. Most syringes will be labeled 5 or 10 cc.
- Empty the urine bag.
- Wash your hands.
You can empty it into the toilet or a container, as you normally do.
You can also wear disposable gloves if you want to.
How to position yourself to remove a Foley catheter
- Remove the tape or straps that hold the catheter to your body.
- Clean your genital area.
- Lie down on your back.
It's usually attached to your thigh.
You can use soap, water, and a clean cloth.
You can lie flat on your back. It may be more comfortable with your knees bent. Or you can be in a standing position to remove the catheter, if it's comfortable.
Use an absorbent pad or towel to catch any extra urine that comes out.
How to drain a Foley catheter's balloon
- Prepare the syringe.
- Insert the tip of the syringe into the balloon port on your catheter.
- Allow the fluid to drain out.
- If the syringe fills, empty it.
You may need to move the plunger up and down a few times to loosen it. Leave it open about .5 mL.
Make sure that you know which port is the balloon port. It's not the one where the urine usually comes out.
It should drain on its own, without you pulling the plunger back more. You may need to move the syringe lower to get the fluid to drain.
You can empty it into a sink or toilet. Reattach the syringe and see if any more fluid drains out. You want to completely empty the balloon.
The balloon in your bladder should be empty now, so that it can come out.
How to pull out a Foley catheter
- Gently pull the catheter out of your urethra.
- Take controlled breaths.
- Do not force the catheter out.
- Clean up.
- Wash your hands again.
Pull it slowly and smoothly.
This will help you relax. The catheter should slide out easily.
If it doesn't slide out easily, use the syringe again to try to drain more liquid from the balloon.
Throw away the catheter, the bag, and the absorbent pad, if you used one. You may also want to clean the area around your genitals again.
How to care for yourself after you remove a Foley catheter
- Be prepared for some discomfort.
- Try a warm bath.
Drink extra fluids for a little while, unless your doctor tells you not to.
Urinate as you did before you had the catheter. Your doctor may want to measure the amount of urine to make sure that your bladder is working as it should.
It may burn a little bit and you may see a small amount of blood in your urine the first few times you urinate after removal.
If it's hard for you to urinate, try sitting in a few inches of warm water in the bath (sitz bath). If the urge to urinate comes during the sitz bath, it may be easier for you to urinate while you're still in the bath.
When should you call for help?
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- The catheter gets stuck or hurts when you remove it.
- The catheter looks like it's broken.
- You have problems urinating after the catheter comes out.
- You can't easily remove the catheter.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Ali Tavakkoli FACS, FRCS, MD - General Surgery, Bariatric Surgery