What is an indwelling catheter?

A catheter is a narrow, flexible tube introduced into the bladder to drain urine. An indwelling catheter is held in place by a small balloon at the tip of the catheter with some of the catheter remaining outside the body.

Urinary catheter care at home is simple and an effective way of allowing your bladder to rest and / or recover before or after surgery. It can be for long term or short-term use.


Catheter bags

A urine bag will be connected to the catheter tubing. A urine bag is a device used to collect and contain urine via the catheter.

Leg bags are attached to the leg during the day with leg straps. The straps are of different length; the longer strap fits on the top of the bag to provide optimum support for the leg bag.

Night bags are a larger bag recommended for overnight use for the added capacity, ease of use and to reduce the risk of infection. The night bag connects to the bottom of the leg bag. Remember, never disconnect the leg bag from the catheter. Always connect the night bag to the leg bag outlet tap.

Wearing the leg bag-

During the day you will only need to have the Leg bag attached to the catheter.

  • Ensure that the tap is in the off position

  • Thread the longer Velcro strap through the slips in the top two corners of the bag and then the shorter strap through the bottom two corners of the leg bag. Ensuring the straps are under the catheter bag. Having the straps running on top of the catheter bag may stop the catheter from flowing freely

  • Wrap the strap firmly around the leg. This needs to be done up firmly to prevent slipping but not cutting off your circulation.

  • Secure the catheter bag to the inside of your leg, this ensures the catheter is protected from accidental knocks and tugging

  • Each day you need to alternate the bag to the opposite leg to avoid causing trauma to the urethra

  • Empty the bag when it is half full. By emptying the bag when it is only half full will prevent any dragging and prevent any trauma

  • The leg bag needs to be changed every 7 days. Prior to changing the leg bag, you need to wash your hands well with soap and water. Disconnect the leg bag from the catheter and plug in the new leg bag, making sure not to touch the connection of the new bag. Push it in firmly.

  • To empty or close the bag, slide the blue / white tap across (refer to pictures above)

  • You may empty the catheter into the toilet or into a container and then into the toilet.


Night drainage / overnight bag

To ensure you receive a restful night sleep the leg bag can be attached to a larger overnight drainage system. This bag holds a larger capacity. The overnight bag is connected into the bottom of the leg bag.

  • Push the night bag into the leg bag outlet (tap) and slide the leg bag tap to the open position

  • Ensure the night bag tap is in the closed position

  • Position the night bag on the outer side of your leg and make sure it is connected to the leg on the outside of the bed

  • Have the night bag sitting lower than your body over the side of the bed. To prevent any accidental leakage, it is a good idea to have the catheter bag sitting in a bucket.

Cleaning the night bag

It is recommended that you use the night bag for 7 days and then change it. You will need to wash and clean your night bag each morning.

  • Disconnect the night bag from the leg bag ensuring the taps are closed

  • Empty the urine from the bag

  • Hold the open end of the drainage bag under the tap and rinse with warm soapy water (may use washing detergent, liquid hand soap or white vinegar)

  • Rinse a second time with water only

  • Hang to dry in the bathroom

  • Keep the white / blue protective cap on the night bag when not in use during the day


Helpful tips

  • Drink plenty of fluid to prevent infection and to flush the bladder

  • Always wash hands before and after handling the catheter bag

  • Change the leg bag every 7 days


NOTIFY GEELONG UROLOGY if you experience any of the following:

  • Heavy bleeding – urine looks like pure blood

  • Increased discomfort, severe pain

  • Fever, chills  [temperature over 37.5 degrees]

  • Catheter is not draining any urine

  • Cloudy or offensive urine.


Geelong Urology 03 5229 9105 during business hours

Or leave a message on the After-Hours Urology Paging Service 03 9387 1000

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