Catheterization Concerns and Solutions

Intermittent catheterization was first used in 1970 as a home, nonsterile self-technique. Its effectiveness and safety have since been proven. It is used worldwide.

Thousands of people use the technique to manage bladder function.

Below are some concerns you may have and suggested solutions.

The catheter may not be inserted far enough, may be blocked or the bladder may be having a spasm.

  • The catheter may not be inserted far enough (especially in boys).
  • Your child may not be drinking enough fluids.
  • The catheter may be blocked.
  • Urine may already have leaked out.

It usually indicates a mild bladder or urethral irritation. It will usually clear by itself.

If blood persists or is associated with trouble passing the catheter, contact your doctor.

You should never have to force a catheter into the bladder.

Lubricate the catheter with water soluble lubrication to reduce urethral trauma.

  • You cannot puncture a hole through the bladder. It is a very strong, tough muscle. The catheter will just coil up inside the bladder if it is pushed in too far.
  • You should never force the catheter if you meet resistance and are unable to pass the catheter into your child’s bladder.
  • If your child has had bladder surgery, your doctor or nurse will give you instructions on how far the catheter may be inserted.  This technique should be learned only under the supervision of a nurse or nurse practitioner.  
  • If you feel resistance at the internal sphincter (muscle), the parent or patient should apply firm, gentle and steady pressure until the muscle relaxes and allows the catheter to pass.
  • If you are unable to insert the catheter at home, call your primary doctor’s office right away, or go to the nearest urgent care or hospital emergency room.

Get a watch with an alarm on it or have your child write a secret message to himself or herself and tape it on a desk or lunch box.

Tell the teacher so that your child can have silent permission to leave the classroom to go to the bathroom at the scheduled time.

The school or school nurse may need a note from your doctor.

Most people who catheterize have bacteria in their bladders and still feel well. The presence of bacteria alone does not mean an active infection is present.

If the urine culture is positive and your child is feeling well, treatment may not be necessary.

Constipation may be a problem and may make catheterization harder. 

The bladder does not have enough room to function properly. Let your doctor know if this is a continuing problem.


Last Updated 11/2014