Even though inserting an indwelling Foley catheter is done out of necessity to help patients through certain situations, one out of ten people who have this catheter get an urinary tract infection or UTI. In this article, you will get to know the risks that a patient is exposed to when he or she uses an indwelling Foley catheter and the precautions that need to be taken to minimize the risks.
Infections from Lack of Hygiene: Like any foreign body placed in the human body, the indwelling Foley catheter is prone to causing infections. Hygiene is of utmost importance. The perineal area should be cleaned often with distilled water and patted dry. No ointments or powders should be used on the area where the catheter tube enters the body. Infections occur when the bacteria present on the catheter tube’s surface spread from a lack of regular sterilization. From the tube, the bacteria may spread to the bladder and from there on to the kidneys themselves if neglected for long durations. The patient must be alert for signs of infection like puss, tearing and red, swollen skin around the catheter. Such an infection is known as a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). If UTI symptoms are neglected and left untreated for a long time, bladder stones may develop and the resulting crystal formation along the bladder lining can impede the urine flow causing discomfort. The urine collection bag is to be kept at a lower level than your bladder at all times for easy drainage.
Complications from Urethral Injury: Urethral injury is another common risk associated especially with an indwelling Foley catheter. This is because of the prolonged duration the catheter is in contact with the urethra. Sudden movements should be avoided when using the catheter. It is better to choose smaller size tubes for insertion to reduce discomfort. When tearing occurs, a condition known as Hematuria occurs. This is when blood enters the urine stream.
Blood Infection from Improper Usage: Since the indwelling Foley catheters are typically used for long periods of time, there is a small chance of blood infections that begin when the urinary bladder is exposed to cuts and scrapes from the use of the catheter. Larger sized catheters increase this risk. The bacteria from the tubes may enter the blood stream through the damaged parts and cause blood infection.
Urethral Narrowing: When the catheter comes in contact with the urethra for extended periods, there is a chance of scar tissue forming which causes urethral narrowing. This tissue lines the urethra causing various complications such as a discomfort while urinating.
Injury due to Improper Catheter Usage: People are usually not educated and trained in catheter care, so injuries seem to develop a lot. It goes without saying that inserting and removing the catheter has to be done with extreme care. Comfort levels of the patient have to be checked by the professional doing the insertion. If any pain is experienced, the process has to be stopped. Once the insertion is done, care needs to be taken so that the catheter tubes are not bent along its length. If bent, the flow of urine will not be smooth and this can cause discomfort.
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