Inserting a Foley Catheter

Inserting a Foley catheter is a skill that you will definitely get good at as a nurse. There is absolutely no way around it! This article was concise and summed up urinary catheterizations quite well. I have also added in two videos (one for female insertion and one for male insertion) to be able to visualize the sterile technique used when placing a catheter. Learn how to perform a thorough genitourinary nursing assessment by clicking here.

Urinary Catheter

What is it? Urinary catheterization is the process of inserting a catheter (hollow tube) into the bladder for the purpose of draining urine. You may hear this catheter being called an ‘IDC’.A catheter is inserted into a patien t’s bladder for a number of reasons, including:

  • To drain urine from the bladder in a critically ill patient so that kidney function can be monitored closely;
  • To monitor how much fluid intake a patient may need;
  • To drain the bladder and keep it empty after surgery;
  • To drain the bladder in a patient who is unconscious and cannot tell the staff that they need to go to the toilet;
  • For someone who is paralysed in the lower half of the body;
  • Incontinence (when urine leaks out because the patient has lost control of the bladder.

What is done? 

The indwelling catheter is a soft, flexible, hollow plastic (silastic) tube. A nurse or doctor will insert this tube into the bladder through the urethra. The urethra is the opening where urine drains from the bladder. Because of the risk of infection the perineal area (woman) or penis (male) is cleaned with an antiseptic lotion and the procedure is done under sterile conditions. A sterile soluble lubricant is used to ease the passage of the catheter however momentary discomfort is not uncommon. For males a local anaesthetic lubricant is often inserted into the penis as the length of the urethra makes this procedure more uncomfortable for men. Once the catheter is inside the bladder a small balloon, at the tip of the catheter, is filled with water so that the catheter does not fall out. The catheter is then attached to a drainage bag. The doctors and nurses looking after the patient will monitor the urinary drainage and decide when the catheter can be removed.

What are the risks?

  • Failure to catheterize due to a blockage in the urethra. 
    • This is most commonly a problem in older males due to prostate growth.
  • Infection in the urine
  • Trauma to the urethra or bladder

This is an instructional video for nursing students to review how to insert a Foley catheter into a male patient. The demonstration is done on a VitalSim mannequin.

This is an instructional video for nursing students to review how to insert a Foley catheter into a female patient. The demonstration is done on a VitalSim mannequin.