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How to Flush a Foley Catheter

During the normal course of use, Foley catheters can often become blocked by a mucous plug, blood clot or other obstruction. This often results in slower drainage or total cutoff of the urine stream, which can cause urine to back up into the kidneys.

In these situations it becomes necessary to flush a Foley catheter. This involves injecting a normal saline solution into the tube until urine drains freely from the bladder into the bag. Read on for the full Foley-flushing procedure. But first, the basics. 

What is a Foley catheter? 

A Foley catheter is a tube-like device that helps to drain urine from the bladder. Like an intermittent catheter, it is inserted through the urethra. Unlike an intermittent cath, a Foley is left in the bladder after insertion, secured with a balloon filled with sterile water. Urine then passes from the catheter tube into a bag, where it gathers until the wearer empties it

Doctors recommend a Foley catheter to individuals experiencing issues with their urine stream, including lower output and straining; urethral obstructions that affect one’s ability to urinate; irritation from urine; and nerve damage affecting the bladder’s performance. Foley catheters may also be used temporarily, including after surgery and for monitoring urine output or the urinary tract.

However, the catheter may become blocked or drain at a slower rate. In this instance, you may need to irrigate or flush the catheter to remove any substances clogging the tube.

What You’ll Need

Irrigation kits are an easy way to purchase the required items all together. These packs typically include a 60mL catheter syringe, a collection container, a drainage tray, a plug, a drape, alcohol pads for cleansing, and a normal saline (NS) irrigation solution. Please note, only the included NS solution should be used to flush a Foley catheter. Tap, distilled, filtered or sterile water should NOT be used to perform this procedure.

Other items you may need include medical gloves, and body wash and/or body wipes for cleansing yourself or the patient. Wipes made specifically for Foley insertion, such as SURESTEP, may also come in handy.

How to Flush a Foley Catheter

To start, wash your hands with soap and water, dry them thoroughly, and put on a pair of gloves. The patient’s genital area should also be thoroughly cleaned. Then:

  • (1) Remove any securement device and detach the tubing, avoiding any sharp or strong motions. 
  • (2) Place the drape under the area where the tube meets the bag. 
  • (3) Add the NS solution into the collection container, making sure it’s at room temperature.
  • (4) Use the syringe to draw fluid from the container.
  • (5) Before disconnecting the tube, use the alcohol swab to clean the connection point where the tube meets the drainage bag. Make sure not to touch either intersection point or the tip of the syringe. 
  • (6) Place the plug into the open end of the drainage bag.
  • (7) Insert the tip of the syringe into the catheter tube before pushing the syringe plunger to release the NS solution into the bladder. If you notice some resistance, pull the syringe plunger back or remove it from the catheter and get medical attention.
  • (8) After you’ve released the NS solution, remove the syringe and allow the solution to travel back from the bladder into the drainage tray.
  • (9) Wait until all fluid has drained, and clean the end of the catheter tube with another alcohol pad. Wait for the alcohol to completely dry.
  • (10) Take out the plug from the drainage bag, and reconnect the bag with the tube. Then, reattach the tube with the securement device. 
  • (11) All solutions and supplies should be disposed of before you wash your hands again.

Repeat this procedure as needed or as directed by a medical professional. You may need to irrigate up to every four hours during the day. Along with performing irrigation, patients are advised to stay hydrated and monitor the flow of their urine.

The MEDICAL MONKS STAFF brings to the table decades of combined knowledge and experience in the medical products industry.

Edited for content by ADAM PAGE.

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