A urethral catheter may be used to drain the bladder. It is a technique which can only be learnt through practical, supervised, experience. Normally, a 12 Ch or 14 Ch guage catheter is large enough, and should be inserted with strict aseptic technique to avoid infection.
Prepare a trolley with all the equipment that might be needed. Cleanse the penis or the vulva and squeeze local anaesthetic lubricant gel (1% lignocaine with 0.25% chlorhexidine) into the urethra. Allow time for anaesthesia and then gently but firmly, pass the catheter. Urine flows as the bladder is entered.
Inflate the balloon (if present) once the catheter is inside the bladder. Connect the catheter to a bag. In a male, pull the foreskin over the glans again to prevent a paraphimosis. Failure to pass the catheter may indicate urethral stricture.
Last reviewed 01/2018