Because both the bladder and the urethra are easily injured and highly
susceptible to infection, it is important to remember several precautions in the
performance of this procedure.
a. Aseptic Technique. Aseptic technique is essential. Each catheterization is
a potential source of infection if not carried out properly. Most cases of cystitis that
develop after catheterization are caused by improper catheterization technique. Cystitis is
difficult to cure and causes increased pain for the patient.
b. Lubricated Catheter. The catheter must be well lubricated (unless made of
silicone) prior to insertion. Lubrication reduces friction and trauma to the mucous
membrane lining of the urethra and the bladder.
c. Principles of Insertion. The catheter is inserted only far enough to enter the
bladder. Since the adult male urethra is usually about six inches long, it is usually
sufficient to insert the catheter about seven inches. The female urethra is about 1 and
one half inches long, extending from the bladder to an external opening between the
clitoris and the opening of the vagina. A two-inch insertion of the catheter should suffice
in the adult female.
d. Skillful Handling of Equipment. A medical specialist who is skillful in
handling the equipment can avoid trauma to the patient by being gentle. Use only mild
pressure. Never force a catheter into place. If more than normal resistance is met,
report the difficulty to the doctor. In these cases, which are unusual, dilation
(expansion) of the urethra may be necessary.
Follow this procedure.
a. Check the doctor's orders.
b. Gather equipment. Assemble this equipment:
Catheter, in the appropriate size (the size you ordered).
Water soluble lubricant.