Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Preventing Foley Catheter Infections

Overview

A Foley catheter is a long, thin tube with a bag attached to one end. The bag collects urine that drains from your bladder. A small balloon is inflated inside your bladder to keep the device in place. 

When germs travel from the tube and into your bladder, the result is a urinary tract infection (UTI) or a catheter-associated urinary tract infection or CAUTI. 

These infections are common. The longer you use a Foley catheter, the greater your risk of infection. 

The infection is treated with antibiotics. We might also remove or replace the Foley catheter.

Female Foley Catheter

A catheter is inserted through your urethra into your bladder.

Male Foley Catheter

A catheter is inserted through your urethra into your bladder.


Causes

A Foley catheter infection occurs when bacteria or other germs travel up the tube and enter your bladder. Germs might also enter the tube from the drainage bag when your bag is changed.

You might need a Foley catheter to drain urine from your bladder while you’re in the hospital or if you aren’t able to get up to go to the bathroom on your own. 

For example, you may need a Foley catheter:

  • For 1 to 2 days after surgery.
  • If you have a condition that makes it difficult for you to urinate on your own.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of a Foley catheter infection are:

  • Pain or tenderness around the catheter site.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Pain or discomfort in your lower stomach and back (pelvis).

You might notice urine leaking from where the tube connects to the bag. This can be caused by many reasons. We may have to replace the tube if we can’t identify the reason. 

Other symptoms might include:

  • Blood in the urine bag.
  • Fatigue.
  • Strong urge to urinate or frequent urination.
  • Pressure spasms in your back or abdomen.
  • Confusion or vomiting.
  • Pain or burning sensation when you urinate after the tube is removed.

If the infection isn’t properly treated, it can spread to your kidneys. Rarely, it may spread to your bloodstream, which can be more serious.

Risk Factors

The longer you have a Foley catheter in place, the greater your risk of developing an infection. 

A Foley catheter might need to remain in place longer when you:

  • Have a more serious condition, such as a spinal cord injury.
  • Have surgery on your bladder.
  • Are not able to move on your own.

Your risk of infection is greater when you:

  • Have a weakened immune system.
  • Are an older adult.
  • Have a permanent Foley catheter.

Diagnosis

To diagnose a Foley catheter infection, we:

  • Perform a physical examination.
  • Assess your symptoms.
  • Test a sample of your urine. 

We may also order a urine culture to identify the type of germ causing the infection. Once we know, we can prescribe the right medicine (antibiotics).

After you finish your medicine, we might order an additional urine test to make sure the infection is gone. 

Prevention

During your hospital stay, we take precautions to prevent infection.

Careful insertion. We place a sterile Foley catheter through the tube that carries urine out of your body (urethra). We carefully move the tube into your bladder. Rarely, we’ll insert the tube through a small hole made in your lower abdomen.

Hygiene. We clean our hands before placing the tube to avoid exposing you to germs. If you don’t see a doctor or nurse first wash their hands or use an antibacterial hand cleanser, remind them to do so.

Prompt removal. We regularly monitor you to see how soon we can remove the Foley catheter. The earlier we remove it, the lower your risk of getting an infection.

If you must go home with a Foley catheter, we’ll teach you how to avoid an infection. 

Lifestyle Management

Before touching, changing, or checking your catheter or urine bag:

  • Wash your hands and under your fingernails with soap and warm water.
  • Clean the catheter site with a warm washcloth and soap.
  • Wash your upper legs and buttocks.
  • Rinse the soap off your body, and pat dry with a towel (don’t rub your skin).
  • Secure the tube to your body with a clean piece of tape. 

Men usually tape the tube to their abdomen. Women tape the tube to their inner thigh.

Never touch anything that goes into your catheter and bladder without first cleaning your hands.

Home Treatment

If you must use a Foley catheter for longer than a few days, be sure to:

  • Drink plenty of daily fluids to flush the catheter.
  • Check your bag every 1 to 2 hours.
  • Change or drain the bag before it gets too full.
  • Change your catheter immediately if it plugs up.
  • Pinch your catheter to check for sediment. If so, have the tube changed immediately.
  • Keep the drainage bag below bladder level.

Remember to follow all instructions exactly as given.

If the bag doesn’t contain urine every 1 to 2 hours, check to see why. Make sure the catheter is in place and isn’t leaking. Call us or your primary doctor if you have any questions. 

Additional References:

Related Health Tools:

Prepare for Your Procedure

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.