Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Foley Catheter Overview

What is a Foley catheter?
A Foley catheter is a thin rubber tube that is inserted into the bladder to drain urine. One end of the tube is designed to rest inside the bladder, while the other end rests outside the bladder. There is a small balloon at the end that rests inside the bladder. After the catheter is inserted into the bladder, the balloon is inflated with water from the other end of the catheter. The balloon prevents the catheter from slipping out of the bladder. Urine flows through the center of the catheter.

What is a Foley catheter used for?
Foley catheters may be used temporarily for sudden urinary retention, for surgical procedures, to collect a sterile urine sample for testing, or to perform an imaging study of the urinary tract. Foley catheters may also be used routinely for long-term management of severe urinary incontinence, or urinary retention caused by a spinal cord injury.

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Last Updated: May 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Foley Catheter References
  1. Hardyck C, Petrinovich L. Reducing urinary tract infections in catheterized patients. Ostomy Wound Manage. 1998 Dec;44(12):36-8, 40, 42-3. [10026547]
  2. Newman DK. Managing indwelling urethral catheters. Ostomy Wound Manage. 1998 Dec;44(12):26-8, 30, 32 passim. Review. [10026546]
  3. Wilde MH. Foley catheter management at home. Home Healthc Nurse. 1991 May-Jun;9(3):39-45. [2061084]
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