Caring for Your Foley Catheter

Catheters are used after surgery to help drain urine from the bladder. After your transplant, you may go home with a Foley catheter. It is important to keep the catheter clean as you recover.


What is a Foley catheter?

A Foley catheter is a device that drains urine from your bladder into a bag. The catheter that is in your bladder has a small balloon filled with fluid to hold it in place. You may go home with a Foley catheter in place after your surgery. During the daytime, your catheter will be connected to a leg bag that attaches to your thigh. At night, you can change it to a larger bag.


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Procedure Details

How do I care for my Foley catheter?

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling the catheter or bag.
  • You will need to empty the leg bag every two to three hours; the larger bag only needs to be emptied every eight hours.
  • To empty the bag:
    • Wash your hands.
    • Remove the stopper on the leg bag or open the clamp on the large bag and empty the urine into the provided container to measure the urine.
    • After you measure the urine, empty the urine into the toilet.
    • Cleanse the drain port with soap and water.
    • Replace the stopper on the leg bag; or clamp the port of the large bag.
    • Wash your hands again.
  • You will change to the larger bag at bedtime so you won’t have to get up during the night to empty the bag. In the morning, you may change back to the leg bag.
  • To change the bag:
    • Wash your hands.
    • Empty the bag (make sure to measure the urine before emptying into the toilet).
    • Use soap and water to wipe off the connection between the catheter and the bag and the connection part of the other bag.
    • Clamp the catheter tubing by pinching it with your fingers just above the connection. Then disconnect.
    • Connect the new bag and unpinch the tubing.
    • If your catheter is going to be in longer than a week or if it smells, you can wash the used bag in soap and water. Rinse the bag with solution of 1 ¼ cups white vinegar in two quarts of water. This will reduce the urine odor and help prevent infection.
  • The leg bag has adjustable straps that attach the bag to your thigh. Allow for some slack in the catheter so it does not pull and cause discomfort.
  • The large bag can be hooked on the bed frame. Do not put it on the floor. When using the large bag, you can tape the catheter to your thigh or use a leg strap to provide slack and prevent pulling on the catheter.
  • Always keep the bag below the level of your bladder.
  • Cleanse around the urinary opening daily with soap and water. When cleansing the urinary catheter, remember to push germs away from you. This means to start at the urinary opening and wipe down towards the drainage bag with soap and water.
  • Call your transplant coordinator if you have any problems or questions regarding the catheter.
Care At Cleveland Clinic

When to Call the Doctor

When should I call the doctor?

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever over 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Your urine becomes cloudy.
  • Your urine has a strong odor.
  • Urine is leaking around the catheter.
  • You have pain or fullness in your abdomen.
  • You have clots of blood or have grossly bloody urine.
  • You have little or no urine flow into the bag.
  • Your catheter comes out.

Do not go more than five to six hours with no urine flow without calling the doctor. You should have at least 100cc (ml ) in three to four hours.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/20/2019.

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