What is a Foley Catheter?

What is a Foley Catheter? image

Have you ever had some difficulty in urinating? If you have a problem in your urinary tract or you may have an obstruction or just cannot urinate because of a recent surgery, then you need a Foley catheter to aid you in your waste disposal.

You see, a Foley catheter is a little tube that can be inserted into your bladder to collect your urine. It is thin and is sterilized so you will not feel any pain during the process. Since it is inserted into your bladder for an extended period of time, it is also called an indwelling catheter.

How Does a Foley Catheter Work?

A Foley Catheter is inserted into your bladder through a process called catheterization. During this time, the catheter is held inside your bladder through a balloon that is filled with water.  When the catheter is inside, urine is drained from your system and emptied into the leg bag. From here, urine can be removed from the bag for disposal or for future laboratory examinations.

Why Might You Need A Foley Catheter?

This tool is essential for many types of disorders. For example, if you have a blockage in your urethra because of certain conditions like prostate cancer, then you will more than likely have difficulty passing urine and will need to use a catheter. A Foley catheter can also help if the doctor needs to drain urine from an injured person who cannot go to the bathroom. It can also be used to extract urine from someone who has just gone through an operation. It is also useful if you have a bladder dysfunction due to brain or nerve problems. It is a great tool to allow yourself or someone else to urinate when they need it the most.

What Are The Risks of Using a Foley Catheter?

The most pressing risk of using a Foley catheter deals is one that has been brought up multiple times with indwelling catheters in general: urinary tract infections (UTI). Because the catheter acts as a direct vessel from the interior of the bladder to the outside world, it provides an ideal breeding ground for numerous types of bacteria. This is a growing issue amongst the senior population, particularly those who either forget to replace their catheters regularly or cannot afford to regularly replace their catheters.

To combat this issue, many manufacturers of Foley catheters have introduced many different methods of reducing bacterial presence. Some of these methods include coating the catheter in a layer of antiseptic material that prevents bacterial growth. However, this has not eliminated the risk entirely simply due to the fact that Foley catheters must remain within the body for an extended period of time. The time spent within the body usually will result in clogging of the catheter simply from the fact that a layer of biofilm tends to coat the catheter, allowing for urine to remain stagnant within the catheter—increasing the risks of a urinary tract infection.

The best solution to reducing the risks of a UTI from using catheters is to make use of an intermittent catheter. These catheters do not need to remain within the body and are meant to be thrown away after a single use—significantly reducing the risk of a UTI.

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