Pros and Cons of Foley Catheters

Is a Foley Catheter the right Answer?

foley catheterA Foley catheter is a special urinary flexible tube device which is designed to be inserted through the urethra and into the bladder, either permanently or temporarily, to be used to help aid in the drainage of urine. A Foley usually has two separate channels. One allows for the drainage of urine while the other consists of a value and is connected to a balloon that is able to inflate when inside the bladder to help hold it in place. This urinary device is able to be used on patients that are sedated for surgery, comatose patients, incontinence sufferers, people with enlarged prostates, C-section patients, and patients that may suffer from kidney disease. Although before deciding whether to use a catheter such as this, it is important to consider the pros and cons beforehand to make sure it will be suitable for you (depending on your condition of course).


A pro of the Foley catheter is that is can help to reduce skin irritation and help to heal perineal ulcers that may have occurred over time. Ulcers that may have formed and that are causing soreness can be uncomfortable and hard to clear for the sufferer. Using an indwelling catheter helps to keep skin dry at all time and can reduce the risk of these ulcers from forming.

Another advantage of a catheter such as this is it can help maintain a constant and reliable drainage solution that allows for the body to easily remove urine when needed. This device is usually used to help monitor the amount of urine that is excreted, and can be helpful in keeping a track of abnormities that may occur in the kidneys, bladder, and the urethra.

Another benefit of a Foley is that it can help to open up a blocked urethra that may have been closed due to an injury, cancer, or a medical condition. The thin tube can help to make an opening for the urine to easily pass through and allows for the bladder to stay functioning at all times without any blockages.


Although they may help to heal perineal ulcers the most common problem that occurs with a catheter such as this is a urinary tract infection. These infections are quite frequent in users because bacteria can travel through the tube and back up and into the bladder. This bacteria causes the urine to become infected resulting in pain when urinating. Over a period of time a biofilm that can cause restriction and obstruct the drainage process causing stagnant urine to be left within the bladder. This stagnant urine can also cause and increase urinary tract infections, and may require replacement of the catheter to improve health and cleanliness.

An indwelling Foley catheter can also pose a concern with an allergic reaction to the materials it is made from. Made with silicone rubber or latex, some men may experience an allergic reaction that can result in itching and soreness depending on the degree of the allergy. If an allergic reaction should appear it is important that the catheter should be removed immediately and replaced with an alternative.

Bladder stones can also form after a Foley catheter is used long periods of time. Because this indwelling catheter is inserted into the bladder bacteria can form urinary crystals that attach to the end of the tube. Over time these crystals become large and at certain times may break off in parts that lodge in the tube forming a blockage. Drinking a larger amount of water helps to reduce the crystallization of urine although this may not always eliminate the problem.

Insertion trauma can also cause complications when this tube is used. Because the tubing is entering a small space, trauma from inserting it forcefully or without care may result. This trauma can cause soreness, a bruise, or scar the inner walls of the bladder or urethra and may cause discomfort for the sufferer. If insertion trauma results it is important to seek medical advice to ensure no long term damage has occurred.


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