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Learning About Removing a Foley Catheter at Home

Overview

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.

Get ready to remove the catheter

How to get ready to remove a Foley catheter at home

You will need soap to wash your hands, a towel or an absorbent pad, and the syringe.
slide 1 of 5
slide 1 of 5, How to get ready to remove a Foley catheter at home,
  1. Empty the urine bag.

    You can empty it into the toilet or a container, as you normally do.

  2. Wash your hands.

    You can also wear disposable gloves if you want to.

How to position yourself to remove a Foley catheter

Person on his or her back, with knees gently bent and a towel underneath legs, with detail of a Foley catheter inside the body
slide 2 of 5
slide 2 of 5, How to position yourself to remove a Foley 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.

    You can use soap, water, and a clean cloth.

  3. Lie down on your back.

    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

A Foley catheter has two ports: one for the urine bag and one to attach to the syringe for draining the balloon.
slide 3 of 5
slide 3 of 5, How to drain a Foley 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 usually 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. You want to completely empty the balloon.

How to pull out a Foley catheter

Person on his or her back, gently removing a Foley catheter
slide 4 of 5
slide 4 of 5, How to pull out a Foley 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.

How to care for yourself after you remove a Foley catheter

Person in a warm bath (sitz bath)
slide 5 of 5
slide 5 of 5, How to care for yourself after you remove a Foley catheter,
  1. Hydrate.

    Drink extra fluids for a little while, unless your doctor tells you not to.

  2. Urinate.

    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. Try a warm bath.

    If it's hard for you to urinate, try sitting in 5 to 10 centimetres 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 or nurse call line 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 or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.