A Foley catheter is a thin, flexible and sterile tube which is passed through the urethra into the urinary bladder. Urine drains from the bladder into a bag which is attached to one of the lumens of the catheter. The urinary catheter is held in its place with a balloon at one end which is filled with sterile water. A drainage system thus consists of the cathedral tube for urine transfer and a urine collection bag. It is an indwelling catheter (it remains in the body for a considerable amount of time).
When is a Foley Catheter used?
The need for catheterization arises in a number of conditions including:
1. When there is hesitation or inability to urinate due to retention (due to anomalies in the urinary stream)
2. When there is an anatomical obstruction to the urethra (prostate cancer etc.)
3. To monitor urine samples of critical patient
4. When there is a malfunction of the urinary bladder due to a nervous condition (trauma to some part of the nervous system)
5. Post or during surgical interventions (when patients have been sedated or are under anaesthesia)
6. Post deliveries that happen through caesarean sections
7. When a patient is comatose
8. When a patient’s mobility is hindered due to paralysis or injury and toilet facilities cannot be used
Two Way vs Three way Foley Catheter
In the two way Foley Catheter, One channel drains the urine thorough a urine pipe and the other inflates the balloon. Three way foley catheter has an additional channel for irrigation.
Risks associated with Foley Catheter Insertion and Use?
There are a number of possible risks associated with the use of Foley balloon catheters including:
1. Breakage of the balloon upon insertion (all fragments should be removed by the physician)
2. Failure of the balloon to inflate correctly after placement
3. Premature inflation of the balloon
4. Obstruction of urine flow in the catheter
5. Bleeding of the urethra
6. Catheter associated urinary tract infections
What are the different types of Foley Catheters?
1. Lumen gauge size in French (F/ FG):
Foley catheters sizes available are 6F, 8F, 10F, 12F, 14F, 16F, 18G, 20F, 22F and 24F. 6,8 & 10F foley balloon catheter sizes are generally used for paediatric cases. 14F and 16F sizes are generally meant for use in adults. Larger lumen catheters are used for hematuria cases (passage of blood in the urine) and for those who have blood clots.
Double and triple lumen variants are available. A 2 Way Foley Catheter is the standard variant wherein one lumen is used for drainage and the second lumen for balloon inflation. The 3 Way Foley Catheter has an irrigation lumen through which blood, clots and other debris can be washed out.
3. Material composition:
latex rubber, silicone and silicone coated variants are available. Traditionally, these urinary catheters have been made from latex, however, silicone due to its more inert nature is now gaining preference especially for long term use and where cost is not a constraint. In general, silicone foley catheters are more costly than latex rubber foley catheters.
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