Urinary Catheter Insertion, Indwelling Female

Urinary Catheter Insertion, Indwelling - Female

Purpose:  (Foley or retention catheter) A catheter is used to remove urine from the bladder in situations when there is a mechanical obstruction in the urethra or retention of urine due to a nerve block (after surgery or childbirth, for example), or in cases where urine needs to be carefully measured. A catheter may also be used when a patient must be immobilized (such as with skeletal traction) and during many surgical procedures.

Nursing Considerations


  • Determine the indication for the indwelling catheter (Foley or retention catheter) and confirm the order.
  • Ask the patient if she has a history of urinary issues or has been catheterized before and for how long it may have been in place. If the patient has urethral strictures, this can make catheterization more difficult.
  • Assess for latex allergy, depending on catheter being used.
  • Assess for adhesive allergies.
  • Assess for shellfish allergy or iodine sensitivity.


  • Catheterization is contraindicated if there is suspected urethral trauma/tearing.



  • The main risk is infection. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections are the most common nosocomial infections. 10-30% of patients develop bacteriuria and become symptomatic within 2-4 days after insertion of an indwelling catheter. Though catheters may be used for comfort at end of life, indwelling catheters are not indicated to manage incontinence or for convenience at any other time, and should always be removed as soon as possible.
  • Indwelling catheters may also lead to renal inflammation and pyelonephritis with prolonged use.


Patient Teaching:

  • Explain the procedure and what the patient can expect to feel during insertion (pressure, then relief as urine is released).
  • Due to the expected concerns for modesty, offer to provide a bath blanket to cover the legs and close the curtain to provide privacy.



  • Note: Catheters come in different sizes and materials. Catheters are sized in units called French, ranging from 12 FR (small) for pediatrics to 48 FR (extra large), and are usually silicone but may be latex or another material.
  • clean gloves
  • washcloth and warm water for perineal hygiene
  • waterproof pad
  • sterile Foley catheter kit

If you are not using a kit, also assemble the following supplies:

  • sterile catheter in the appropriate size
  • sterile gloves
  • sterile drapes, one with a fenestration (window)
  • antiseptic solution such as betadine (use castile soap or Hibiclens if the patient reported an iodine sensitivity)
  • sterile basin (the catheter kit tray may act as the basin)
  • sterile cotton balls
  • sterile forceps
  • prefilled syringe with WATER
  • lubricant
  • disposable urine collection bag and tubing
  • paper tape or a leg strap


  • Confirm the patient’s ID using two identifiers.
  • Close the curtain to provide for patient privacy and stand on the patient’s right if you are right-handed or the left side of the bed if you are left-handed.
  • Ask the patient to lay back in the dorsal recumbent position; knees flexed and legs about two feet apart with legs abducted. Slip the waterproof pad under the patient’s buttocks. Keep the patient covered while you set up your sterile field.
  • Set up the urine collection bag if a separate system is to be used, and attach it to the bed frame.
  • Open the sterile catheterization kit between the patient’s legs using sterile technique. If no kit is used, open a sterile drape and prepare sterile field with necessary supplies.
  • Don the sterile gloves included in the kit.
  • Lift the first sterile drape (with no window) and, using part of the drape to cover the gloves, tuck the drape just under the patient’s buttocks while she lifts up. If the gloves become contaminated, replace them with new gloves.
  • The second drape is fenestrated, and is placed over the patient to expose the genital area.
  • Open all the sterile supplies in the tray. Remove the plastic sheath covering the catheter, squirt the lubricant in the tray, pour the antiseptic over the cotton balls, and attach the syringe to the port. (If no kit is used, ensure that one end of the catheter tube is in the basin and this is within reach for urine drainage.)
  • Testing the balloon prior to insertion is not recommended. All catheters are tested during the manufacturing process. Also, inflation creates stress on the balloon that creates “ridges” and increases the surface area, causing higher incidences of urinary tract infections and more irritation upon insertion.
  • Clean the labia and urinary meatus: Using your nondominant hand as your working/nonsterile hand, spread the labia open and prepare to keep this hand there until the catheter is in and urine is flowing.

  • Using your dominant hand and keeping it sterile, use the included sterile forceps to pick up an antiseptic-soaked cotton ball and clean one labial fold front to back, discarding the cotton ball afterward. Pick up another cotton ball and clean the other labial fold front to back and discard. Then use another cotton ball to clean the meatus and down the middle toward the rectum.
  • Using your sterile, dominant hand, pick up the catheter a few inches from the tip and dip it in the lubricant. Then insert the tip slowly into the urethra and advance it until you see the flow of urine, and then another 3 inches.
  • Inflate the balloon with the entire volume of sterile water (usually 10 mL). Do not inflate against great resistance. Try moving the catheter in a little before attempting again.
  • Attach the urine drainage bag if no kit was used. Otherwise, attach the urine drainage bag to the bed frame now. Clean up supplies.
  • Use tape or velcro leg strap to attach drainage tubing to leg, leaving some slack to allow for movement.
  • Remove gloves and perform hand hygiene.
  • Assist patient to comfortable position.