A urinary catheter is a small, soft tube placed in the bladder. This article addresses urinary catheters in babies. A catheter may be inserted and removed right away, or it may be left in place.
WHY IS A URINARY CATHETER USED?
Babies may need urinary catheters while in the hospital if they are not making much urine. This is called low urine output. Babies can have low urine output because they:
When your baby has a catheter, health care providers can measure how much urine is coming out. They can figure out how much fluid your baby needs.
A baby may have a catheter inserted and then removed right away to help diagnose an infection in the bladders or kidneys.
HOW IS A URINARY CATHETER PLACED?
A provider puts the catheter into the urethra and up into the bladder. The urethra is an opening at the tip of the penis in boys and above the vagina in girls. The provider will:
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF A URINARY CATHETER?
There is a small risk for injury to the urethra or the bladder when the catheter is inserted. Urinary catheters that are left in place for more than a few days increase the risk for a bladder or kidney infection.
Reviewed By: Kimberly G. Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. 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. Editorial update 10/15/2018.