Learning About Removing a Foley Catheter at Home

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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 bladder through your urethra. It's held in your bladder by a small balloon filled with sterile water. The tube drains urine from your bladder into a bag or container. You may have had the catheter for a few days, weeks, or longer.

If your doctor tells you it's okay to remove the catheter at home, your doctor will tell you when to do it.

How do you remove a Foley catheter at home?

Get ready to remove the catheter.

slide 1 of 5
slide 1 of 5, Get ready to remove the catheter.,

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.

  1. Empty the urine bag into the toilet or a container, as you normally do.

  2. Wash your hands. You can also wear disposable gloves if you want to.

Position yourself to remove the catheter.

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slide 2 of 5, Position yourself to remove the catheter.,
  1. Remove the tape or straps that hold the catheter to your body. It's usually attached to your thigh.

  2. Clean your genital area with soap, water, and a clean cloth.

  3. Lie down flat on your back. This may be more comfortable with your knees bent. Or you can be in a standing position or sitting on the toilet to remove the catheter, if that's comfortable.

  4. Use an absorbent pad or towel to catch any extra urine that comes out.

Drain the catheter's balloon.

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slide 3 of 5, Drain the catheter's balloon.,
  1. Prepare the syringe. You may need to move the plunger up and down a few times to loosen it. Leave it open about 0.5 mL.

  2. Insert the tip of the syringe into the balloon port on your catheter. Make sure that you know which port is the balloon port. It's not the one where the urine comes out.

  3. Allow the fluid to drain 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.

  4. If the syringe fills, empty it. You can empty it into a sink or toilet. Reattach the syringe and see if any more fluid drains out. (There may be more in the balloon than you expect.) You want to completely empty the balloon so that it's ready to come out.

Pull out the catheter.

slide 4 of 5
slide 4 of 5, Pull out the catheter.,
  1. Gently pull the catheter out of your urethra. Pull it slowly and smoothly.

  2. Take controlled breaths. This will help you relax. The catheter should slide out easily.

  3. Do not force the catheter out. If it doesn't slide out easily, use the syringe again to try to drain more liquid from the balloon.

  4. Clean up. 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.

  5. Wash your hands again.

Take care of yourself.

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slide 5 of 5, Take care of yourself.,
  1. Drink extra fluids for a little while, unless your doctor tells you not to.

  2. 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.

  3. Be prepared for some discomfort. 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.

  4. If it's hard for you to urinate, try a sitz bath. Sit in a few inches of warm water in a bathtub. 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.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.