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Foley Catheter Buyer's Guide: Selecting the Best Option for Your Needs

Foley Catheter Buyer's Guide: Selecting the Best Option for Your Needs
Anushree Kothari

Article Reviewed by Registered Colorectal NurseReviewed by Christine Kijek, Registered Colorectal Nurse, on September 17, 2022

A Foley catheter helps in draining urine from the bladder into a urine collection bag. It is a thin tube constructed of soft and flexible material that is inserted into the bladder to completely empty it. Foley urinary catheter features a small retention foley balloon that is inflated in the bladder to hold the catheter in place. The retention balloon prevents falling out of the catheter from the bladder and lets the user perform his daily activities with freedom. Since the catheter can be left in the bladder for an extended period, it is also called an indwelling catheter.


Types of Foley Catheters

These are usually categorized into three broad categories, namely, two-way, three-way, and Foley catheters with a temperature sensor. A brief description of these categories is given below:

  • Two-way Foley Catheter

    A two-way catheter has two channels and a retention balloon. One channel is used to drain out urine, and another channel is used to inflate the retention balloon. An inflated retention balloon securely holds the urethral catheter in place. It is widely used for the management of urinary dysfunction.

     Two-way Foley Catheter
  • Three-way Foley Catheter

    A three-way catheter contains three channels. Like a two-way catheter, one channel is used to drain out urine and another to inflate the retention balloon. The third channel helps provide continuous bladder irrigation to clear blood clots or debris. A three-way catheter is used in the case of prostate tumors, bleeding from the bladder, or after urological surgery.

    Three-way Foley Catheter
  • Foley Catheter with Temperature Sensor

    A Foley catheter with an integrated temperature sensor near the tip is used to measure the temperature of urine inside the bladder. It also helps in determining core body temperature. The temperature-sensing catheter is used for intensive care and some surgical procedures.

    Temperaturea Sensing Catheter

How to Choose the Right Foley Catheter Size?

Choosing an appropriate indwelling catheter is essential for successful catheterization. When buying a catheter, a few points to consider are its material, size, length, foley balloon size, and tip design should be kept in mind.

  1. Material

    The choice of catheter material should be what suits your body type and minimizes the risk of urethral irritation.

    • Plastic or PVC catheter with large diameter provides good postoperative drainage.
    • Silicone-coated latex catheter has a smooth internal and external surface. It can reduce the chances of encrustation.
    • Hydrogel-coated latex catheter is more compatible with the body tissues. It provides low surface friction, less trauma, and improved patient comfort.
  2. Catheter Length

    These catheters come in three lengths, short, standard, and pediatric.

    • A short-length catheter (23 - 26 cm) is ideal for ambulatory female patients. The short length allows the leg bag to be worn beneath the skirt. This type of catheter is not recommended for male patients as the shorter length may cause severe trauma to the urethra.
    • Standard length catheter (40 - 44 cm) is ideal for male patients. Bedridden female patients can also use this type of catheter.
    • A pediatric catheter normally has a length of about 30 cm.
  3. Foley Catheter Balloon Size

     There are 3 foley catheter balloon sizes: 5cc, 10cc, and 30cc. Choosing a larger balloon size than required may result in dragging the catheter due to the water weight in larger balloons. The larger balloon sits higher in the bladder and can increase the risk of getting urethral damage. Under or over-inflation of the balloon can block the drainage eyes and cause bladder spasms. Therefore, the balloon should be inflated according to the guidelines of the manufacturer.

  4. Tip Design

    Foley urinary catheter is categorized into two types, depending on the type of catheter tips: Nelaton catheter and Tiemann catheter.

    • Nelaton Catheter This type of catheter usually has a round, straight tip with two drainage eyes. It is ideal for routine catheterization.
    • Tiemann Catheter: The Tiemann catheter has a curved tip specializing in negotiating male prostatic curves and difficult insertions.
  5. Foley Catheter Size

    The diameter of the Foley catheter is measured in Charriere (Ch or CH) or French (Fr or FR) size. It indicates the external diameter of the catheter. Choosing the smallest possible size that offers adequate drainage is always recommended because a larger diameter may cause urethral spasms and irritation. These catheters with larger charrier sizes can be used for supra-pubic catheterization to prevent blockage. Here is an image that describes catheter size with color codes - 


    Foley catheter sizes

How to Insert a Foley Catheter?

  • Maintain sterility throughout the procedure of Foley catheterization. Put on gloves and clean the perineal area.
  • Put on the gloves and clean the perineal area.
  • After cleaning the perineal area, dip cotton in the povidone-iodine solution and gently apply it to the urinary opening in a circular motion.
  • Apply some lubricant to the catheter tip and then insert it.
  • Insert the catheter until its near end is reached to ensure it has entered the urinary bladder.
  • Once the urine starts flowing out, you can be sure that the catheter is inside the bladder. Now the balloon can be inflated to prevent the accidental removal of catheter.
  • Do not insert the catheter into a spastic urinary opening or an erect penis. Doing so can cause trauma after insertion. Deep breathing can help relax muscles.
  • To inflate the balloon, inject sterile water into the injection port. It is usually recommended to fill the 5cc balloon with 7-10cc of sterile water and the 30cc balloon with 30-35cc of sterile water.
  • Pull the catheter gently to check if the balloon is inflated.
  • Attach the other end of the catheter to the urine bag.

How to Remove a Foley Catheter?

Removing it is easier than inserting the catheter.

  • You need to aspirate the sterile water from the injection port.
  • While putting negative pressure, make sure that the lumen of the catheter from where the port comes out gets thinner. This indicates that the balloon is really deflated. An improperly deflated balloon can cause trauma to the urethral passage.
  • Ensure that the volume of sterile water injected equals the volume of sterile water you get after aspirating.
  • Slowly pull the catheter away from the urinary opening.
  • After removal, check for blood, urine crystals, or pus in the tip of the catheter, as this may be an indication of a problem like bleeding, stones, or infection.
  • Discard the catheter and the urinary drainage bag.

Where to buy Foley Catheters?

Health Products For You carries a wide range of urinary catheters and other urological supplies. Explore our catalog today to find your best pick. 

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HPFY Anushree Kothari

Anushree Kothari

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Anushree Kothari, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2016. She has a deep interest in human physiology and wellness and possess a passion and talent for guiding others through ...

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