Advantages & Disadvantages of Using Foley Catheters

Published: 17th March 2011
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A person is normally healthy and free from all sorts of maladies during his/her prime youth. Gradually, however, as the age advances, one starts experiencing a number of problems, such as, regular aches here and there, swollen joints, osteoporosis (in women) and numerous urinary problems.

Various urinary problems begin to creep in as soon as one is above 40 years. These include nephritis, urethritis, cystitis, involuntary evacuation and benign prostrate enlargement. Wherever there is a malady, there is a remedy available to cure it. One of the treatments for urinary incontinence is catheterization by using a foley catheter.


A foley catheter is a thin, sterile tube that can be inserted into one’s bladder in order to drain out the accumulated urine-which is then tested for any infection and sediments found in the urine. The tests also throw sufficient light on how the kidneys are functioning – because if the kidneys are not functioning properly, they will discard even useful chemicals and substances (required for healthy blood) along with the waste products in the urine. In some cases the catheter is left in the bladder for an extended period of time to ensure regular drainage and check-up. The catheter has a balloon (full of sterile water) attached at one end which helps to keep the catheter in place.

A foley catheter is used for prognosis of abnormalities found in the kidneys, ureters, bladder and the urethra—so that treatment may follow on the basis of the symptoms discovered. The following processes are in vogue:

- Urine retention – with its accompanying symptoms such as, straining while urinating, very weak and thin flow of urine, and the constant urge to urinate even when there is nothing left in the bladder to pass.

- Urethra obstruction – when a stricture develops in the urethra due to an injury or infection, or due to malignant enlargement/cancer of the prostrate, the passage of urine becomes very difficult and even painful.

- Urine output monitoring – this is done to measure the urine output in the case of an injury to any of the functionaries of the urinary tract.

- Collecting urine for diagnostic purposes.


It is imperative that one should be aware of the risks and disadvantages of using a foley catheter. They are as under:

- Balloon breakage – the balloon attached at one end of the catheter may break while inserting – which may result in causing stricture in the urethra canal.
- There is every possibility that the urine may stop flowing into the bag provided for the purpose.
- Blockage of urine flow – this may become quite serious for the patient unless discovered well in time to adopt corrective measures.
- Bleeding – serious consequences may follow if bleeding occurs in the urethra canal or at the neck of the bladder.
- Infection – if the catheter is not properly sterilized, infection may set in and this could continue to spread so long as the same remains inserted in the bladder.
- Rupture caused by balloon – if the balloon is opened before the catheter is accurately fitted properly in place, it may result in the rupture of the urethra-resulting in a chain of problems.


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