What You Need To Know About Catheter Infections

One of the most common infections a person can contract in a hospital is a catheter-associated urinary tract infection. These type of infections are usually cause by an indwelling catheter (indwelling meaning “inside your body”.) An indwelling catheter drains urine from your bladder into a bad secured outside the body. People typically have these types of catheters in place as a result of surgical post-op care (bladder, prostate, or vaginal), urinary incontinence, or urinary retention.

Patients with indwelling catheters are more susceptible to harboring bacteria and developing urinary tract infections in the bladder or kidneys. Bacteria can build up around the catheter and invade the urinary tract. With the build-up of bacteria, an infection can develop. It’s important to treat a catheter-associated urinary tract infection immediately. If left untreated, the infection can develop into a severe kidney infection.

What causes an infection to develop?

An infection can develop in the catheter if the catheter is not regularly or properly cleaned, if the drainage bag is not emptied frequently enough, if urine from the drainage bag flows back into the bladder, if the catheter is contaminated during catheterization, or if bacteria from the bowels finds its way on to the catheter.

Symptoms to look out for include cloudy urine, burning with urination, blood in the urine, strong or foul smelling urine, urine leakage around the catheter, lower back or abdominal pain, discomfort or pressure, fever and chills, and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Tips to prevent a catheter-associated UTI

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after placing your hands on the catheter or drainage bag.
  • Clean around the catheter and the skin next to the catheter daily. Make sure to clean away from the catheter.
  • Do not keep catheter in for longer than necessary.
  • Make sure to empty the drainage bag at least.
  • Always keep the drainage bag below your waist to prevent urine from backflowing into the bladder.
  • Change the catheter at least once per month.
  • Drink water often throughout the day to keep urine flowing.
  • Avoid twisting or kinking the catheter. Move the tubing around if it isn’t draining.


David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor

View posts by David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team. Learn more at roboticoncology.com. Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

1 Comment

  1. NateMarch 23, 2015

    Very interesting. Although it is typically up to the hospital to keep Catheters in check and clean, having knowledge on Catheter’s sanitation is always wise. About a year and a half ago I was admitted to the hospital for about 2 months for a brain hemorrhaging. My stay for the first 2 weeks, I was placed on a catheter and from my recollection it went great. If you don’t mind sharing, what are some of your personal experiences with catheters?

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