A urinary catheter is a small, soft tube placed in the bladder.
WHY IS A URINARY CATHETER USED?
A catheter may be needed if your baby is making only small amounts of urine. This could be because your baby has low blood pressure or an abnormally developed urinary system, or uses medicine that decreases urine production or that will not allow your baby to move his or her muscles. With the catheter your baby's urine can be closely measured, which will help your doctor determine how much fluid your baby needs.
HOW IS A URINARY CATHETER PLACED?
The catheter is placed into the bladder through the opening to the passage where urine leaves the body. This is called the urethra. Its opening is located at the tip of the penis in boys and near the vagina in girls. The area around it is carefully cleaned. Then a sterile catheter is inserted into the bladder.
In older children, a small balloon near the tip of the catheter is inflated with water to help hold the catheter in place. The catheter, called a Foley catheter, may be connected to a sterile bag to allow the urine to be accurately measured.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF A URINARY CATHETER?
There is a small risk of injury to the urethra or the bladder when the catheter is inserted. Urinary catheters that are left in place for more than a few days increase the risk for a bladder or kidney infection.
Kimberly G Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.