Foley Catheter, Pediatric

There are times when children cannot get up to use the bathroom. This can happen right after an operation when it is important to remain in bed for one or more days. Despite this, it is still important to be able to urinate (to pee) when needed. This can be made possible by placing a catheter (a thin, soft, flexible tube) in the bladder and allowing the urine to drain out into a special bag. The tube is called a Foley catheter. The bag is connected to the tube and hangs off of the side of the hospital bed. There are marks on this bag that measure how much urine has passed out of the bladder.


  • Allergies.

  • Medications taken including herbs, eye drops, over the counter medications, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Possible pregnancy, if applicable.

  • Previous problems with numbing medicine.

  • History of bleeding or blood problems.

  • Previous surgery to the urethra, bladder, or other nearby organs.

  • Other health problems.


Most insertions of a Foley catheter are quick, painless, and without side effects or complications. However, as with any procedure, there are always possible risks. They include:

  • Failure to successfully pass the tube through the urethra and into the bladder.

  • Puncture or tearing of the urethra (very rare).

  • Bleeding.

  • Infection.

  • Allergic reaction to the material that makes up the tube or to the tape or strap used to hold the tube in place.


The skin around the privates is cleaned. Legs need to be spread apart in order to make room for a few things needed to pass the Foley tube through the urethra (the tube that normally empties the bladder). After the tube passes into the bladder, and the urine begins to drain, either a strap or tape is placed around the leg to hold the tube in place.


The urine in the bag is measured every so often. This is done by clamping the tube and disconnecting the bag. If there is concern about infection, then a sample of urine is sent to the lab for testing. After the bag is emptied, the catheter is connected to a clean bag and urine can flow again. When the tube is no longer needed, the tape is removed, and the tube is easily and quickly pulled out and discarded.


If you are going home with a Foley catheter in place, then follow these instructions:

Taking care of the catheter:

  • Keep clean the area where the catheter leaves your child's body.

  • Attach the catheter to the leg so there is no tension on the catheter.

  • Keep the drainage bag below the level of the bladder; BUT keep it off the floor.

  • Do not give your child a long soaking bath. Your child's caregiver will give instructions about showering.

  • Wash your hands before touching ANYTHING having to do with the catheter or bag.

  • Use mild soap and warm water on a washcloth.

  • Clean the area closest to the catheter insertion site using a circular motion around the catheter.

  • Clean the catheter itself by wiping AWAY from the insertion site for several inches down the tube.

  • NEVER wipe upward as this could sweep bacteria up into the urethra and cause infection.

Taking care of drainage bags:

  • Two drainage bags will be taken home - a large, overnight drainage bag, and a smaller leg bag which fits underneath clothing.

  • It is okay to wear the overnight bag at any time, but NEVER wear the smaller leg bag at night - it must be changed for the larger bag.

  • Keep the drainage bag well below the level of your child's bladder. This prevents back flow of urine into the bladder and allows the urine to drain freely.

  • Anchor the tubing to your child's leg to prevent pulling or tension on the catheter. Use tape or a leg strap provided by the hospital.

  • Empty the drainage bag when it's 1/2 to 3/4 full. Wash your hands before and after touching the bag!

  • Periodically check the tubing for kinks to assure that there is no pressure on the tubing which could restrict the flow of urine.

Changing the Drainage Bags

  • Clean both ends of the clean bag with alcohol before changing.

  • Pinch off the rubber catheter to avoid urine spillage during the disconnection.

  • Disconnect the dirty bag and connect the clean one.

  • Empty the dirty bag carefully to avoid a big urine spill.

  • Attach the new bag to the leg with tape or a leg strap.

Cleaning the Drainage Bag

  • Whenever a drainage bag is disconnected, it must be cleaned quickly so it is ready for the next use.

  • Wash the bag in warm, soapy water.

  • Rinse the bag thoroughly with warm water.

  • Soak the bag in a solution of white vinegar and water - 1 cup vinegar to 1 quart warm water for 30 minutes.

  • Rinse with warm water.


  • Your child has an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C).

  • Chills develop.

  • Some pain develops in the kidney (lower back) area.

  • The urine is cloudy or smells bad.

  • There is some blood in the urine.

  • The catheter becomes clogged and there is no urine drainage.


  • There is moderate or severe pain in the kidney (lower back) region.

  • Vomiting develops.

  • Blood fills the tube.

  • Worsening abdominal pain develops.

  • Your child has an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C), not controlled by medicine.