What Are Foley Catheters?
A Foley catheter is a flexible rubber tube that passes through the urethra into the bladder. These catheters help in draining urine from the bladder into an external urine bag (leg bag), which can then be emptied into the toilet.
A Foley catheter has two separate channels called lumens. One of these lumens is open at both its ends and drains urine into the collection bag. The other lumen has a prime valve attached on the outer surface that connects to a balloon.
The balloon itself is filled with high-quality sterile water. This helps to connect the catheter onto the urinary organ and prevents it from slipping out. Foley catheters are commonly manufactured using natural rubber or silicone rubber.
Silicone rubber is non-reactive to all body fluids and medicinal fluids. This makes it easy for you to urinate into the urine bag and for any fluid to be injected into your body. Silicone is also flexible in nature and does not detach from the urine bag easily, allowing you to walk and continue your daily activities easily.
A Foley catheter is made from antibacterial and hydrophilic materials. This assures that the external surface remains warm and moist and reduces friction, making it easy for the user to apply and use the catheter.
Antibacterial properties help in preventing the accumulation of bacteria on the surface of the catheter tube, as well as on its inner surface. This keeps you safe from many infections and medical conditions that may further damage or worsen your urinary incontinences.
Foley catheter sizes
Foley catheters are available in different sizes and shapes. Due to the differences in shape of the urinary organs in men and women, there are different sizes recommended for all. Even children are susceptible to urinary incontinences. This means there are different catheter sizes for children as well.
The size of a Foley catheter is measured on a French catheter scale. This catheter scale is also known as French Units (Fr) and is used to measure the outer diameter of catheters, needles and other cylindrical medical instruments used with catheters.
A single Fr is equal to 0.33mm. This means approximately 0.013 inches or 1/77th of an inch in diameter. This denotes the circumference of the catheter to the nearest millimeter. Here’s a look at the different Foley catheter sizes for men, women, and children:
- For neonate weighing <1200g, a 3.5Fr umbilical Foley catheter is recommended
- For neonate weighing 1200g- 1500g, the umbilical Foley catheter should be 5Fr
- Neonates weighing 1500g- 2500g should use a 5Fr umbilical Foley catheter as well
- For 0-6-month-old babies weighing 3.5kg-7kg, 6Fr Foley catheter should be used
- For 1-year-olds weighing up to 10kg, 6Fr-8Fr Foley catheter is suitable
- For 2-year-olds weighing up to 12 kg, size 8Fr catheter is to be used
- For 3-year-olds weighing 14kgs, the Foley catheters should be 8Fr- 10Fr
- For 5-year-olds weighing 18kgs or more, 10Fr Foley catheters are recommended
- For 6-year-olds weighing 21kg, 10Fr Foley catheters should be applied
- For 8-year-olds weighing up to 27kg, 10Fr- 12Fr Foley catheters should be used
- For 12-year-olds with any weight, the ideal Foley size is from 12Fr to 14Fr
- For adult men, the average Foley catheter size ranges from 18Fr to 24Fr and for women, the size range is 12Fr- 18Fr
Foley Catheter Care
Foley catheters allow urine to drain from the bladder into an external urine bag. These devices consist of a thin, hollow tube made from a soft and flexible material (such as rubber or silicone). The tube passes through the urethra and into the bladder.
The catheter is properly held in place with the help of a small water-filled balloon, which is inflated within the bladder to prevent the catheter from falling out, allowing you to go about your daily activities without any trouble.
Foley, or indwelling, catheters are designed to last for a long time. The device contains both antibacterial and hydrophilic properties, making it easy and safe to apply. Since the catheter does not require frequent replacements, you need to keep it clean to make it last longer and work smoothly. Here are a few tips for Foley care:
- Ensure Closed Drainage
The catheter is designed to be a closed drainage system. This prevents bacteria and other contaminants from building up and entering into the catheter system, so as to avoid any infections. If you want to maintain a closed drainage system and keep all bacteria at bay, you must be careful NOT to:
- Remove the catheter on your own, without being instructed or assisted by your doctor
- Handle your catheter and empty the urine bag without washing your hands with soap and water
- Break the connection, by any means, between your catheter and the tubing or the catheter and the urine bag
- Use any other material except alcohol pads when cleaning both ends of the catheter if it disconnects accidentally
- Prolonging Life
Foley catheters last as long as you want them to. In some cases, these catheters are subjected to any inadvertent pulling actions that can cause discomfort. To prolong the life of your catheter and for maximum relief and comfort, it is best to use a Foley stabilization device. This minimizes the catheter movement and any accidental dislodging, maximizing comfort and ease of use.
- Steady Urine Flow
Urine flows out your body and into the catheter bag as a result of a gravitational pull. This means that the urine bag should be placed below your abdomen at all times. Ideally speaking, it should be attached to your leg when you are up and about, and placed under your bed during night hours.
For the best urine flow, make sure that the catheter tube spreads properly. There should be no loops or kinks in the catheter or the tubing that might reduce or restrict the overall flow of urine, out of your body.
The urine bag needs to be emptied into your toilet frequently. The frequency should be lower of 4-8 hours or the time it becomes full. Make sure that the drain tube does not come into contact with the toilet surface when emptying the urine bag.