Being unable to urinate can turn into a serious problem. Urine filling the bladder is uncomfortable at first, and then it becomes painful. Should the issue continue, the bladder might become so full that the urine is backed up into a person’s kidneys. The damage this causes can sometimes be permanent.

The solution to this problem is to insert a urinary catheter into a person’s bladder. A catheter is a flexible, sterile tube that is inserted into the patient’s urethra. It’s then pushed gently until the end reaches the bladder. Once the catheter has reached the bladder, urine can drain into a bag attached to the catheter. It doesn’t need to move through the blocked urethra.

How Catheters Are Placed When You’re Having Surgery

A patient who’s been anesthetized with general anesthesia isn’t able to control their urination. Because of this, the surgical team will usually place a Foley catheter before performing the procedure. This ensures that the bladder stays empty and the operation is clean and sterile. In most cases, the catheter will be kept inserted until after the surgery. When the patient has enough alertness and control of their body to begin urinating normally again, the catheter can be removed.

Foley Catheter

This type of sterile catheter is designed to stay in one place for long periods of time. On the tip of the catheter is a balloon. When the catheter is placed in the bladder, the balloon is inflated, allowing the tube to stay in place rather than potentially slip out. In addition to the “Foley catheter,” this catheter is sometimes called an “indwelling catheter.” Once the balloon is inflated, urine can drain through the tube from the bladder.

A Foley catheter is utilized for patients who cannot urinate by themselves. This may be because they’re sedated, too sick, or have a medical issue that prevents them from urinating.

Straight Catheter

If the bladder only needs to be emptied once and there’s no need for the catheter to stay in place, medical professionals will use a straight catheter. As soon as the bladder is empty, the catheter is removed. Every insertion of a catheter comes with a small risk of urinary tract infection, whether it’s a Foley or straight catheter.

Medical Risks of Catheters

The biggest risk is that both straight and Foley catheters can increase your chances of a urinary tract infection. Catheters are inserted with a sterile technique and should not introduce harmful objects to the body. However, moving a foreign object into a person’s urinary tract will always increase infection risk. As a Foley catheter stays inserted, the increasing time corresponds with an increasing UTI risk. Every additional straight catheter insertion also heightens UTI risk.

Will I Need a Catheter During My Surgery?

If you’re being completely sedated, you will probably need a catheter. You can talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have. Information provided by Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN.

Talk With Dr. Newman

If you are considering surgery and have questions, then talk with Dr. Newman. He can help you consider all of these aspects. During a consultation appointment explain your surgery, go over your goals, lifestyle, and concerns in order to help you make the best surgical decision. Call us today to make an appointment.