A catheter is a tube in your bladder that removes urine from the body. This tube may stay in place for an extended period of time. If so, it is called an indwelling catheter. The urine drains from your bladder into a bag outside your body.
When you have an indwelling urinary catheter, you are more likely to develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) in your bladder or kidneys.
Many types of bacteria or fungi can cause a catheter-related UTI. This type of UTI is harder to treat with common antibiotics.
Common reasons to have an indwelling catheter are:
During a hospital stay, you may have an indwelling catheter:
Some of the common symptoms are:
Other symptoms that may occur with a UTI:
Urine tests will check for infection:
Your provider may recommend:
People who use this type of catheter will often have an abnormal test and culture of urine from the bag. But even if the test is abnormal, you may not have a UTI. This fact makes it harder for your provider to choose whether to treat you.
If you also have symptoms of a UTI, your provider will likely treat you with antibiotics.
If you do not have symptoms, your provider will treat you with antibiotics only if:
Most of the time, you can take antibiotics by mouth. It is very important to take all of them, even if you feel better before you finish them. If your infection is more severe, you may receive medicine into the vein. You may also receive medicine to lessen bladder spasms.
You will need more fluids to help flush bacteria out of your bladder. If you are treating yourself at home, this may mean drinking six to eight glasses of fluid a day. You should ask your provider how much fluid is safe for you. Avoid fluids that irritate your bladder, such as alcohol, citrus juices, and drinks that contain caffeine.
After you have finished your treatment, you may have another urine test. This test will make sure the germs are gone.
Your catheter will need to be changed when you have a UTI. If you have many UTIs, your provider may remove the catheter. The provider may also:
This can help prevent bacteria from growing in your catheter.
UTIs related to catheters can be harder to treat than other UTIs. Having many infections over time may lead to kidney damage or kidney stones and bladder stones.
Untreated UTI may develop kidney damage or more severe infections.
Call your provider if you have:
If you have an indwelling catheter, you must do these things to help prevent infection:
Reviewed By: Sovrin M. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.