Catheter Care

Patient Catheter Care

What is a catheter?

A catheter is a hollow flexible tube which drains urine from the bladder. There is a small balloon at the end of the catheter to prevent it from falling out of the bladder. Urine is drained out from the bladder as it fills. There is no need to pass urine into a toilet while a catheter is in place. You simply empty a drainage bag attached to the catheter.. The a long term catheter is changed by a doctor or nurse every 2 months or earlier if required.

Types of drainage bag?

A leg bag is worn during the day. A larger night bag is used overnight.

A leg bag is strapped to your leg and concealed under your clothing. It holds up to 500mls. It is emptied every 3 hours during the day. Don't over fill the bags as it will become heavy and cause lower limb discomfort.

How do you empty the bags?

1. Wash your hands with soap and water

2. Open the clamp located at the bottom of the bag

3. Drain the urine into the toilet

4. Close the clamp securely

5. Wash your hands when finished

A leg bag needs to be changed weekly or earlier if it is damaged. Do not touch the catheter opening when changing the leg bag. You may shower with your catheter in place connected to your leg bag. It is important to cleanse thoroughly around the catheter. Uncircumcised men should pay attention to returning their foreskin to its normal position after cleansing. Dry surrounding area well and avoid applying creams or powder on the catheter.

How do I attach the night bag?

1. Clean your hands with soap and water

2. Drain the leg bag

3. Attach the night bag at the bottom of the leg bag. Ensure the valve of the leg bag is left open.

4. Ensure the leg bag is below the level of your bladder in a clean bucket beside your bed.

5. In the morning, close valve of leg bag and disconnect the night bag. Wash the inside and outside of the night bag with soapy water. Allow bag to air dry.

Fluid intake & Bowel care

Aim to drink at least 2-3 L of fluid per day. Avoid alcohol, carbonated, acidic and caffeine containing drinks to avoid bladder spasms.

Ensure adequate dietary fiber intake to prevent constipation. A diet high in fruits, vegetables and cereals is recommended.


1. Feeling the need to urinate or burning at tip of penis may be due to bladder spasms : Try taking paracetamol to decrease discomfort, ensure no excessive tension on catheter,  contact your doctor if it doesn't settle

2. No urine from catheter: Check that tubes connected the catheter are not kinked and the drainage bag is below the bladder. Contact your doctor if there is still no drainage or increasing bladder discomfort.

3. Leaking of urine around catheter: It may be a sign of bladder spasm. Avoid excessive catheter tension. Ensure drainage bag is below the bladder. A trial of Buscopan may be helpful. It is not an emergency if urine is draining well into the bag. Let your doctor know if the problem persists.

Where do I get further catheter supplies?

Independence solutions

35 Tinning Street. BRUNSWICK 3066. Tel 03 9415 1200

Contact your urologist for the following problems

  1. Persistent bleeding in your urine
  2. Signs of urine infection - cloudy urine, feeling unwell or fever
  3. Urine is not draining from your catheter