Your Recovery: Bladder Function
For patients that had bladder or urological surgery
During surgery, a catheter (a small tube) will be placed in your bladder to drain urine. Your doctor will decide how long the catheter will stay in place after surgery. Some patients may go home with their catheter.
Two types of catheters are commonly used for urinary surgery. Some doctors may use both types of catheters for the first 24 hours.
- A Foley catheter is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. This catheter follows the usual path that urine travels from the bladder to the outside of the body. The urine drains into a collection bag.
- A suprapubic catheter is inserted in the bladder through a small cut in the lower abdomen. Urine drains through a small tube and is collected in a bag outside of the body.
One of the things you may notice after surgery is feeling the need to urinate even though the catheter is draining urine from your bladder.
Let your nurse know if your bladder feels full. She will make sure your catheter is working properly.
Relax your pelvic muscles. Do not try to "hold" your urine.
Always place the drainage bag below the level of the bladder to keep urine from flowing back into the bladder. Secure the catheter tubing to the upper leg to prevent pulling.
- Water is the best liquid to drink after urinary surgery. Apple juice is also OK. Avoid liquids that have caffeine in them (carbonated beverages, tea or coffee) and fruit juices such as cranberry and citrus juices because they irritate the bladder.
It is not uncommon for your urine to have blood in it after surgery, but this should decrease over time. Your urine may also be blue, green or white in color due to the medications used in surgery.
Testing the Bladder if You Have a Foley Catheter
When your doctor feels you are ready, your catheter will be removed. You will then try to urinate (void) on your own. A container will be placed in the toilet to collect all urine. After you have voided several times, your nurse may do a scan of your bladder or insert a small catheter to see if your bladder is empty. The amount of urine left in the bladder is called residual urine. If this amount is small, the catheter is taken back out.
If the residual amount of urine is large:
- The catheter may be left in place for a few more days.
- You may be taught to catheterize yourself. (It may be helpful to ask a family member to help you do this.)
- Bladder retraining exercises may begin.
Helping Your Bladder Empty
- Be patient. It may take an extended period to empty your bladder on your own.
- Try distraction methods to help relax your muscles. For example, put your hand in warm water, spray warm water around the urethra with the spray bottle given to you, take deep breaths, or read a magazine.
- Never allow your bladder to become overly full.
- Do not strain or attempt to push the urine out.
- Ask your nurse questions.
- It will be helpful to have a family member or friend also learn the steps used in bladder retraining. They can then give you the support you will need when you return home.
- A nurse's assistant will help you with a sponge bath.
- Wash your hands before and after you touch your incision.
- Wash your hands after you use the bathroom.
- Rinse your genital area with warm water after you go to the bathroom.
- Always wipe your genital area from front to back.
- Keep skin around the urinary catheter and the catheter tubing clean.