Learning how to catheterize a child is not as difficult or as scary as it sounds. With practice, elementary school-age children can do it themselves. You may need to catheterize your child due to urinary incontinence (leakage), urinary retention (not being able to urinate), prostate conditions or as a result of surgery.
Health care providers at Norton Children’s Urology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, will instruct you on how to place a catheter.
Keeping your hands, the child’s urethra area and equipment clean is important for preventing urinary tract infections.
A prescription will be provided for the catheters, which may be delivered or bought at supply stores. There are many different types and sizes, and they will be customized for your child’s needs. Other supplies may include a container to capture the urine, towelettes and lubricant. Do not use petroleum jelly.
Your health care provider will tell you how often to empty the bladder with a catheter. Typically, it needs to be done every 4 to 6 hours, or 4 to 6 times a day. Empty the child’s bladder at least first thing in the morning and just before going to bed at night.
An overly full bladder can increase the risk of infection, permanent kidney damage or other complications.
Before you begin, clean the child’s genital area with soap and water, and dry. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and consider wearing sterile gloves. You can place an absorbent pad under the child to help contain any urine. Open the supplies’ packaging after you’ve cleaned your hands. Keep them close to you in a clean area before you begin.
Many catheters are disposable, and most insurance companies will pay for sterile single-use catheters.
Some are designed to be reused if cleaned properly following instructions from your health care provider. If reusing a catheter, clean it after every use and do not let it touch any bathroom surfaces. Throw away the catheter when it becomes dry and brittle.