What Is a Clean Catheterization?
Clean catheterization uses a clean, not sterile, catheter to drain urine from the bladder.
The Urinary System
The urinary system contains the kidneys, bladder, and ureters.
The kidneys filter waste and excess water from the blood stream.
Kidneys make urine. Urine then flows through the ureters to the
bladder. The bladder holds the urine until you empty your bladder.
When the bladder is full, nerves in the bladder send a message to
the brain and to the spinal cord. The message causes the muscle
that holds urine in to relax and the bladder to squeeze urine out
through the urethra.
Your doctor or nurse will explain what type of bladder problem you have. These problems are
ξ Messages from the bladder to the brain and/or spinal cord are not complete.
ξ The bladder has weak muscles. All urine does not empty out.
ξ The sphincter does not open properly. The bladder overfills.
ξ The sphincter is always open. Urine dribbles out.
ξ Sudden uncontrolled spasms cause urine to leak out.
You may need to drain the bladder if you cannot void or control urine output.
If the bladder overfills for a long time, urine can back up into the ureters and into the kidneys
causing damage to both. If the bladder is overstretched, it slows blood flow, making a bladder
infection more likely.
You can empty the bladder on a schedule using a catheter to help prevent backflow of urine and
Catheterization helps you stay dry. If you have bladder spasms or a weak sphincter muscle,
catheterization alone may not keep you dry. Your doctor may suggest one or two medicines to
stop the spasms and tighten the sphincter.
Most people need to catheterize every 3-4 hours to prevent urine overflow.
ξ A clean catheter
ξ Water soluble lubricant (K-Y jelly, Lubrifax , or Surgilube ). Do not use Vaseline®
ξ Container for urine
ξ Liquid soap and water
Step by Step Guide
1. Gather equipment.
2. If your doctor or nurse has told you to
urinate, do so before you begin.
3. Wash your hands with soap and water.
Wash your genital area. Wipe from front to
back, never back to front.
4. Lubricate the catheter with the lubricant,
two inches from the tip.
5. Spread your labia (the outer lips) using one
6. Find your opening of tube to your bladder
(urethra) by feel or by using a mirror.
a. Hold the catheter close to the tip.
b. Gently insert it into your urethra.
c. Direct it upward; guide it toward
your bladder until urine flows. (see picture)
8. Allow all of the urine to flow out.
9. After the urine has stopped flowing, slowly remove the catheter. If more urine flows out at
one spot, stop there to let it drain.
10. Pinch the catheter as you remove it to avoid getting wet.
11. Wash the catheter with antibacterial liquid soap and water. Rinse well. Drain the water out.
Place on a clean towel to dry. Moisture can cause bacteria to grow.
12. You will need a new catheter every week or as instructed by your provider.
You may need to keep records of your progress for several weeks. Ask your doctor or nurse. See
attached flow sheet.
ξ If you leak urine, carry extra clothing and pads with you.
ξ Catheterize before your scheduled time if you plan to be away from home.
ξ If you travel, plan when and where you will be able to catheterize.
ξ If your child needs to be catheterized at school, discuss the schedule with the school
ξ Empty your bladder every __________ hours, day and evening.
ξ You may catheterize yourself sooner than 4 hours if you have discomfort. Do not wait more than
ξ Drink 8-10 glasses (8-oz.) daily.
ξ If you limit fluids after supper, you will be able to stay dry and avoid overfilling your bladder.
This may allow you to go through the night without catheterizing.
ξ If you notice these symptoms, drink more fluids.
Cloudy or dark-colored urine
Foul smelling urine
Solid flakes, mucous sediment floating in the urine
When to Call the Doctor
ξ Bloody urine
ξ Blood from the urethra
ξ Temperature greater than 100.5° F by mouth
ξ Back pain
ξ Stomach ache
UW Health Urology 608-263-4757
UW Health at The American Center Urology 608-440-6464
UW Health One South Park Urology 608-287-2900
After Hours, Nights, Weekends, and Holidays, the clinic number is answered by the paging
operator. Ask for the Urology Doctor on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area
code. The doctor will call you back.
Toll Free: 1-844-607-4800
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©7/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4355.
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