Catheter Care Removal

You have been or may be discharged from the hospital with a urinary catheter. These tubes (usually called "Foley," named after the inventor) are used to drain the bladder of urine normally stored there.

In certain circumstances we will suggest that you remove the catheter yourself at home. We realize the thought of doing something "medical" may be frightening, but removing the catheter is quite easy and carries no serious risks. This is usually done early in the morning on a week day. The reason for this is that if you are unable to urinate after removal of the catheter, we will be in the office to assist you.

To remove the catheter you must understand its construction.


The catheter is a hollow tube with a hole on each end. A side arm can be seen on the catheter and this allows a small balloon to be filled in the bladder so the catheter does not fall out.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Removing the catheter

You can see in Figures 1, 2 and 3 that the catheter stays in place in the bladder because of a balloon at the end that is inflated with water once the catheter end is placed into the bladder. Therefore, removing the water from the balloon flattens the catheter and allows you to pull the catheter out. Removing the water from the balloon requires you to cut completely across the valve stem with scissors (Figure 4). The balloon will slowly drain one to two teaspoons of water in 30 seconds. The catheter can then be easily pulled out with a gentle tugging movement. You may then throw the catheter into the garbage. Once removed, you may want to monitor the times and amount of urine that you pass for the next 24 hours. Expect a slight burning sensation with urination for the first day or so. If you are unable to urinate, or have the sensation that you are not emptying your bladder, please call.