My husband, age 72, has a Foley catheter in place for urine retention due to his enlarged prostate. Because the catheter will be in place for some time, is there a risk that his bladder will become 'lazy' and retain urine after the catheter is removed?
A Foley catheter is a tube placed into the bladder. It allows urine to drain from the bladder. In general, this would not cause the bladder to become less responsive ("lazy") if the Foley catheter is only needed for a few weeks.
Men respond differently to the removal of a Foley catheter when the problem is urethral obstruction. If your husband's urinary retention occurred over a couple days, the muscles in the bladder wall should still work normally after the catheter is removed. (This assumes his bladder is otherwise normal.)
Some men have a partial obstruction that slowly gets worse. The bladder keeps enlarging until the bladder wall muscles get overstretched. When this happens, the bladder won’t empty because the muscle contractions are too weak to push urine beyond the obstruction.
Your husband's doctor has two choices for how to remove the Foley catheter:
- Remove it and make sure your husband can pass urine after a couple hours
- Opt for bladder training. This means clamping and unclamping the catheter prior to its removal so your husband's bladder regains the sensation of filling and emptying.
There are dangers to clamping a catheter. This is especially true if the clamp stays on too long. When clamping is recommended, it is usually under the supervision of a health professional.
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