Foley Catheter Insertion Guide

Nursing Knowledge

Foley Catheter Insertion Guide

Foley catheters (also known as indwelling urinary catheters) are a common medical device used to drain urine from the bladder. They are often used in clinical nursing practice to manage urinary retention or incontinence, and can be inserted into the bladder through the urethra or a surgical opening. In this guide, you will learn about the different types of catheters available, how to properly insert and care for them, and potential complications that may arise.
Last updated: December 4, 2023

Table of contents

What are the different types of indwelling urinary catheters?

  • Indwelling urinary (Foley) catheters: inserted into the bladder through the urethra, small, inflated balloon to keep in place (urine drains into bag)
  • Intermittent catheters: used short-term to empty bladder (for medical procedures or when urinary retention)
  • Suprapubic catheters: inserted through a small hole in the abdomen into the bladder (often used when the urethra is blocked or damaged, or long-term)
  • Condom catheters: used for men who suffer from incontinence, condom-like sheath with tube 

What supplies are needed for Foley catheter insertion? 

Indwelling catheter insertion kit: 

  • Sterile gloves
  • Sterile water syringe
  • Sterile underpad
  • Antiseptic swabs
  • Lubricant
  • Drape
  • Absorbent pad
  • Securement device
  • Urine collection bag
  • Indwelling catheter

Steps for preparing for an indwelling urinary catheter insertion

  1. Ensure procedure is ordered
  2. Ensure client is suitable and consents
  3. Check client for latex allergy 
  4. Ensure you have all needed supplies
  5. Provide privacy and explain procedure to client
  6. Perform hand hygiene and put on non-sterile (clean) gloves
  7. Assist client to proper position (lithotomy/supine)
  8. Place absorbent pad between client’s legs

How to insert a Foley catheter (step-by-step)

  1. Open the catheter kit maintaining sterility.
  2. Place the sterile underpad underneath the client.
  3. Place the sterile drape over the perineal area.
  4. Remove unsterile gloves and put on sterile gloves.
  5. Remove the antiseptic swabs from their packaging.
  6. Attach the sterile water syringe to the balloon inflation
  7. port.
  8. Open the lubricant packet and squeeze lube onto the packing tray.
  9. Remove the catheter cover.
  10. With the sterile dominant hand, dip the catheter tip into the lubricant.
  11. Using the nondominant hand, separate the labia minora or hold the penis at a 60–90-degree angle and retract the foreskin (if applicable).
  12. With the dominant hand, use the antiseptic swabs to clean the labia (left side, right side, center). Use a new swab for each swipe.
  13. For the penis, use an antiseptic swab to clean the glans in a circular motion from the inside outward. Use a new swab for each swipe, for a total of three times.
  14. With the dominant hand, slowly insert the catheter into the urethra. Instruct the client to breathe normally and that some pressure is expected. Do not force a catheter if resistance is felt.
  15. Continue to hold the labia apart or hold the penis in place as the dominant hand advances the catheter inward. Slowly advance until urine is seen in the catheter tubing.
  16. Engage the sterile water syringe to inflate the balloon.
  17. Release your non-dominant hand and adjust the catheter as needed.
  18. Secure the catheter to the client’s thigh using the securement device.
  19. Secure the urine collection bag lower than the client’s position.

How to care for a client with an indwelling urinary catheter

  • Ensure that urine collection bag is lower than client’s bladder
  • Change urine collection bag regularly as needed or per protocol of facility 
  • Monitor urine output, color and signs of infection or other complications

What are potential complications of indwelling urinary catheters?

Potential complications of indwelling catheters include:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Bladder spasms or discomfort
  • Blockages in the urinary tract due to sediment buildup or blood clots
  • Accidental removal of the catheter


Foley Catheter Insertion Guide

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