Questions and answers about the permanent transurethral urinary drainage

The balloon catheter, which can stay in the urethra and bladder for several days or weeks depending on the material and the personal situation of the user, drains the urine via a soft tube, usually made of silicone or latex, and collects it in a urine collection bag

The catheter is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. The balloon is then inflated by sterile water or, in case of a silicone balloon, by a 10% glycerine solution. Once the balloon is inflated, the catheter is prevented from coming out of the bladder and so stays in place.

Why do I have a bladder balloon catheter?

A bladder should fill with urine and when a healthy capacity is reached, around 400-600 ml, should then completely empty. If the bladder does not empty, the urine left behind is called a residual amount of urine and can indicate retention of urine which means the bladder needs assistance to empty. There are many reasons why this might not happen and an indwelling catheter is needed needed – including, but not limited to*:

  • neurological conditions – stroke, MS, Motor Neurone
  • physical disability
  • spinal injuries or conditions
  • post surgical retention of urine (inability to empty the bladder)
  • investigations into bladder function
  • prostate problems in men
  • pelvic trauma

What are the contraindications?

A Balloon Catheter should not be used transurethral if you have:

  • Latex allergy
  • Insurmountable urethral passages
  • Excessive urethral stricture
  • Via falsa

What are the potential complications with a transurethral balloon catheter?

  • Catheter associated urinary tract infections
  • Urgency and tenesmus
  • Irritations of urethral mucosa
  • Blockage of the catheter due to encrustation
  • Incorrectly positioned catheter can cause urethral damage if the balloon is inflated within the urethra

Products made of natural latex may cause allergic reactions.

What else do I need to know?

Routine daily personal hygiene with soap and water is all that is needed to maintain meatal hygiene (*) Please follow the instructions given by your doctor or healthcare provider also regarding how to perform hand hygiene.

Drinking enough fluid dilutes the urine and helps reduce the risk of catheter encrustation and blockage. A good fluid intake also ensures a constant downward drainage and flushing effect (*). Drink liquids as directed: Ask your Doctor how much liquid to drink daily and which are the best ones for you.

When do I have to notify my doctor immediately?

Please contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms that your doctor had already warned you about:

  • Should pain (stinging) occur at meatus or
  • Inflammatory signs, such as fever be observed
  • If the catheter no longer drains urine or is being bypassed
  • The catheter falls out
  • You have acute lower abdominal pain
  • The urine is suddenly blood stained or discoloured

(*) EAUN Guidelines „Catheterisation Indwelling Catheters in Adults – Urethral and Suprapubic”, 2012


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