Avoiding the indwelling urinary catheter

Alternatives to an indwelling urinary catheter should be considered based on a patient’s individual care needs. Why? In general, alternative devices and procedures provide a much lower risk of infectious complications, such as urinary tract infection. Additionally, these alternative methods can reduce or eliminate the non-infectious complications – such as discomfort and immobility – that are associated with indwelling urethral (also called “Foley”) catheters. 

The most common alternatives to the indwelling catheter are: 

  • External catheter for men (also called a “condom catheter,” which is a urine containment device fitted over the genitalia and is attached to a urinary drainage bag);
  • Intermittent (“in-and-out” or “straight”) catheterization;
  • Programmed toileting (behavioral therapy); and
  • Suprapubic catheter (surgically inserted into the bladder through an incision above the pubis).

Please consider using a bladder scanner to assess and confirm urinary retention, prior to placing the catheter to release urine. For literature, click here.

For a PDF summary of these alternatives please see the PDF linked below.

Summary (PDF)